'Manufacturing Skills Connection' Aims to Bridge Skills Gap

A partnership between industry, education and government in Shelbyville, Ind., developed a new program that aims to bridge the manufacturing skills gap in the city and the nation.

The Manufacturing Skills Connection program will help employers and their employees enlist in job training and provide career opportunities.

"This is a program designed to supply your local manufacturers with qualified employees," Larry DePersia, program manager at Ivy Tech Corporate College, said at an informational meeting Wednesday with city and county officials. "The jobs are available, but the skill sets aren't there."

Ivy Tech Corporate College invites students to attend an eight-week program at the end of February to earn a Certified Production Technician (CPT) credential.

A CPT credential distinguishes employees from others in the manufacturing industry solidifying their skills are up-to-date, DePersia said. CPT is a national recognition that allow workers to take their skills anywhere. "These are all skills that an employer wants," he said.

Duke Energy Foundation has already invested $60,000 in the program, and the city of Shelbyville will commit $30,000 in EDIT funds each year for the next two years to fund scholarships and administrative costs, according to Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun.

"It will be a two-year commitment to try to help push this along," DeBaun said. "Otherwise, it's incumbent upon the industry to come on board, because this is all about them and for them, so we need their support and cooperation. This is a direct response to the concerns they've given to (Shelby County Development Corp. executive director) Dan (Theobald) and to me and to the city council, that we need help. This is our way of extending that to them."

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  • I might add a little advice for local manufacturers seeking their local community college to provide employee training to fill that niche gap in skills or knowledge. Check for diversity in education delivered, real world knowledge and skills delivered. Also have your on-site expert interview the college instructor(s), and students who took same topic in the past. I'll explain the reasoning for the above with an example from our area of industrial training expertise, PLCs.

    While we have had some colleges hire us to come in and deliver 3-5 days PLC training so students/employees receive a more diverse education, many more have proved to be on the other end of the spectrum. We have had college instructors call to order our training equipment and real-world simulation software, stating they "need it quick as the local manufacturer is sending their people next week". Which indicates to me the instructor has not properly prepared as that is not enough time to get familiar with the training equipment, go through software and incorporate into their curriculum. We have had other college instructors indicate in the phone conversation that they did not even know the difference between a PLC and PAC. Even a couple college instructors referring to an SLC as a PLC. (Terminology and communicating are critical to reducing downtime in PLC training).

    The important thing for manufacturers to keep on the top of their mind is, just because it is an accredited community college, does not indicate they are the best resource to deliver current technology training. In some cases, not even the vendor of that technology is the best source to effectively train your employees. If all you seek is theory, or scholastic knowledge memorizing and not actual real-world skills training, a local instructor who hasn't worked outside of school for years, will most likely be fine. Just keep in mind, for maintenance and engineering technical training, seek a diverse training approach. Vet your training provider, shop around for best resource.

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