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Manufacturers design job training

Some manufacturers have started their own training programs, reports AP. Some 600,000 jobs are going unfilled nationwide, according to a survey of 1,123 manufacturing executives released last year. Tool and die workers, welders, robot technicians, mechanics and sheet metal workers are in short supply.

In Indiana, AAR is having trouble filling well-paying jobs, despite a 7.9 percent unemployment rate.

“There are just not enough qualified people out there. So what we’re trying to do is grow them ourselves,” said Timothy Skelly, AAR Corp.’s vice president and chief human resources officer.

. . . AAR brings in utility workers at a lower wage and starts them on an 18-month program where they do general labor that doesn’t require a license. Eventually, they move into a program that allows them to try to learn a skill and are assigned a mentor. They’re given more complicated tasks and are tested every six months to make sure they are progressing.

Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College is working with employers to identify needed skills and design classes, said Matt Bell, president of the school’s Corporate College. However, many high school graduates with college ambitions think manufacturing is low-skilled, poorly paid factory work.
The manufacturing industry has taken the lead in creating a system of stackable certificates, notes Inside Higher Ed. Colleges help by providing a path to certificates and degrees.

For example, Harper College, a community college in Illinois, last month launched a program where students can earn industry-endorsed certificates in manufacturing. And 54 companies have agreed to hire students from the two-year college as paid interns, as soon as students complete the first level certificate, which, at 16 credits, can be earned in less than four months.

Frustrated with the education system, the Manufacturing Institute created its manufacturing skills certificates with four tiers of competency. Each level of skills serves as a foundation for the next level, making the certifications “stackable.”

The institute’s stackable credentials are designed to match up with curriculums at colleges (as well as high schools at the entry level). And in recent months the industry has signed up higher education partners to strengthen those curricular links.

The for-profit University of Phoenix has created a bachelor of science in management with a concentration in manufacturing that incorporates competencies from the industry’s credential system. Phoenix is working with other industries to create similar degrees.