Skill UP Indiana!, a unique manufacturing program allowing students to learn and earn, began taking applications today (Jan. 19) thanks to the collaboration of local industry, community, education, and business partners in the newly created Southwest Indiana Workforce Coalition (SWIWC). This news was announced during a news conference at the Southwest Indiana Chamber offices, by Ivy Tech Community College Southwest Chancellor Jonathan Weinzapfel. Skill UP is designed to educate and inform students, and will pay students $12.50 per hour during their entire enrollment in the 11-week program, which includes five weeks of class time (40 hours per week) as well as on-the-job learning training, and potential for direct hire with local companies.
“We are excited to spearhead this initiative that can potentially change the way employers hire in the future,” Weinzapfel said. “Giving potential employees the opportunity to learn skills and habits essential to the manufacturing workforce will hopefully have a positive hiring, retention, and advancement impact for local business and industry.” Targeted participants include high school youth, and unemployed/underemployed adult workers. An application can be found at www.ivytech.edu/skillup. Classes begin March 6, 2017.
In late 2016, Ivy Tech Southwest received a grant for the Skill UP Indiana! Program totaling $666,506 from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development to provide sector-focused training and education programs for in-demand occupations in the Southwest region. Skill UP will focus on this region’s third largest area for employment opportunities – advanced manufacturing. Manufacturing in Southwest Indiana is expected to grow by 5.8% during the next decade and the field is experiencing a gap in employment due to the aging workforce and brain drain within existing talent; a challenged work ethic of incoming generations, as well as high turnover of under-skilled, uninformed workers, and misperceptions regarding manufacturing work. Regional employers have expressed a need for programs outside of the standard post-secondary education academic model to train and retrain workers in order for their sector to maintain a competitive edge in an ever changing marketplace.
Weinzapfel said that the Indiana Chamber’s most recent annual employer workforce survey noted that 45% of jobs remain unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants.
“The SWIWC is committed to educating and preparing this region’s middle to high school youth and adult workers through educational and experiential training; as well as development and personal empowerment to generate a thriving employee in the advanced manufacturing industry,” said Bo Drake, executive director of workforce development.
SWIWC partners include: ORG CHEM Group, BWX Technologies, Inc., FLANDERS, Junior Achievement of Southwestern Indiana, Koch Enterprises, Inc., Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana, Toyota Boshoku Indiana, LLC., Wabash Plastics, Berry Plastics, Mead Johnson Nutrition, WorkOne Southwest, and Ivy Tech Community College Southwest. Additional opportunities for other business and industry involvement is available.
Junior Achievement of Southwest Indiana is creating an Advanced Manufacturing curriculum to be delivered in area schools to help create awareness in the types of jobs and careers in the field, Drake said.
“The Southwest Indiana Workforce Coalition has developed an expansive plan for Southwest Indiana to not only educate students in manufacturing, preparing them for good paying jobs available in industry in our communities – but also to compensate them during these class times, so that they can continue to meet their personal and family needs,” Weinzapfel said.
“We know that an obstacle to receiving more education for a better paying job, is that folks must keep working the jobs that they have, in order to meet their basic needs. This plan will allow them to begin their classes at Ivy Tech, and also have the guarantee of being able to meet with local employers; job shadow with these employers, and have a potential career path laid out for them.”
Through the New Hoosier Apprenticeship Model, a combination of training, education, career counseling, group activities, and on-the-job learning, will take place with the goal of improving employee retention and reduce turnover from the misaligned and temporary workforces.
Training will include:
- Fundamental workforce skills – also referred to as soft skills
- OSHA 10-hour general industry certification – teaching safety awareness and reducing jobsite hazards
- Southwest Indiana Manufacturing Training, also referred to as Manufacturing Skills Standards Certification (MSSC) – this is a nationally recognized certification, which can be used toward 6 credit hours of a college Advanced Manufacturing Certificate at Ivy Tech
- On-the-job work – the participant will work for 6 weeks, 40 hours per week, at a manufacturer.
“The program also has a goal of addressing some negative perceptions of manufacturing, as well as attracting qualified applicants who may already be in careers that are not a good fit. An informational campaign is planned to help distribute facts about manufacturing, rather than continue conjecture,” Drake said. “This will culminate with a recruitment event conducted by the Southwest Indiana Workforce Coalition companies and Ivy Tech.”
This project is one of 12 from across the state that was selected by the Indiana Department for Workforce Development who provided a total of $7.7 million in funding.