Adams County Providing Free Training for Local Industries
NA chosen for pilot program
Provides training in areas set by county industrial leaders
By J SWYGART
Bellmont High School has been selected to serve as the site of a pilot program that will provide free training for current members of the local industrial workforce.
The Adams County Industrial Maintenance Training Program, a collaborative effort between Ivy Tech Corporate College, WorkOne and the Adams County Economic Development Corp., is designed to provide continuing education to incumbent employees in specific subject areas identified by county industrial employers.
The adult training program was unveiled Tuesday evening during a meeting of the North Adams Community Schools’ board of education during a presentation by Larry Macklin, executive director of the Adams County Economic Development Corp.
Macklin said local industries have struggled in recent years during the national economic slowdown, “and we haven’t given enough attention to job training” during that downturn. Among the needs recently identified by county employers, he said, was a desire to educate existing employees with skills needed to fill industrial maintenance positions.
“We met with several of our industrial leaders across the county who have expressed a desire to move this project forward, and we are grateful to some who have developed the curriculum,” Macklin said.
The program is geared specifically for production workers, those identified by individual industries, who have the desire to advance within their respective companies. Classes will be taught by instructors from Ivy Tech Corporate College and the college will bring state-of-the-art equipment to Bellmont High School for each subject area, Macklin said. Classes, which are scheduled to begin in June and run for approximately four months, will include approximately 100 hours of training.
The program is free to both employers and employees and is funded by the Northeast Indiana Workforce Investment Board.
“This is a huge opportunity for our workers, and we are grateful to the Workforce Board people who are making this possible,” Macklin said.
North Adams Superintendent Dr. Wylie Sirk said a $75,000 grant is being sought from the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) to help with start-up costs of the industrial maintenance program. Sirk said Indiana legislative leaders have established goals “to provide additional career technical programs to strengthen our workforce, and northeast Indiana is already ahead of the curve.”
The industrial maintenance training program is an offshoot of efforts initiated last year by Keith Gerber, the owner of Hoosier Pattern, a Decatur-based metal pattern-maker. Gerber saw a void in technical andmac hining training currently being offered in area schools and began talking with other industrial employers in the area about their needs. He ultimately founded the Adams-Wells Manufacturing Alliance, a consortium of manufacturers and educators from the two counties who began to meet regularly to address the concerns and needs facing local industrial employers.
Gerber earlier this year also stepped forward to fill what he perceived as a void in the machine trades program at Bellmont High School. Gerber donated three manual lathes, a horizontal saw, manual mills and lathe hand tools to the North Adams school district. He also arranged for retired BHS teacher and current Adams County Commissioner Kim Fruechte to supervise the operation of the metal-working class.
The area’s first industrial maintenance program was launched last month at Norwell High School, again with the assistance of WorkOne and Ivy Tech. According to Wells County Economic Development director and North Adams school board member Tim Ehlerding, 15 employees from eight Wells County manufacturers will participate in the program at Norwell High School developed to addresses a range of needs in areas including machining, welding, fluid power, motors, electricity, and programmable logic controllers.