PORTAGE | Manufacturers looking for employees here could have an easier time next year thanks to the expansion of a program initially introduced in Lafayette.
The Portage Economic Development Corp. has adopted the Advancing Manufacturing program as a project for 2014 with the hopes of holding its first session of classes by June.
The program, sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College and Center for Workforce Innovations, aims to provide skills training for manufacturing jobs, assist in connecting people with those jobs and works to improve the image of manufacturing, said Craig Lamb of Ivy Tech's Corporate College in Lafayette.
Lamb spoke Wednesday about the program during PEDCO's annual luncheon.
"Manufacturing is at the core of economic development," said Lamb, but there is a skills gap.
Lamb said the region is deficient in the number of workers suitable for middle skills jobs, those requiring some sort of training beyond high school. There is also an overabundance of low skilled workers. The idea is to turn those low skill workers to middle school workers, suitable for manufacturing jobs.
Ivy Tech has developed a curriculum for a production technician program technician, said Lamb, drawing on resources already available in the community. The program trains workers in safety, quality practices, maintenance and manufacturing processes more than 140 hours of course work. The course is offered free to eligible workers.
In the last year, said Lamb, the program has matched 14,920 applications with existing jobs in his eight-county area. The program has already expanded into other central and southern Indiana communities.
Funded by a variety of resources, those who qualify, can take the class free of charge. Employees who hire the graduates are asked to reimburse the program for half the cost of the course to maintain the program's sustainability, he said.
For more information on the program, visit its web site at advancingmanufacturing.com.