Ligonier industries looking for skilled employees

March 11th, 2019

By Kayla Brennan | KPC Media - The News Sun

In preparation for the housing study in Ligonier, Mayor Patty Fisel put in the work.

She wanted to know exactly how many jobs were available in the area to prove that more housing is not only wanted in Ligonier, but also needed. So she did the research and found out that were are approximately 400 jobs available in Ligonier’s industries.

“I got the number from the industry,” Fisel said. “As we talk to each one of them, they kind of gave me a number. I polled them to see how many jobs were available. I felt like that was good information to know and share with the housing summit people because that shows the need for housing.”

Fisel said she tries to visit with some of the industries throughout the year. She recently visited with Silgan Plastics.

“They shared with me that they have 210 employees and they need 25 more people,” Fisel said. “They had hired six people that morning, but he said by the end of the week, more than likely only one of those people will stay.”

She also said that Tenneco needs 20 employees. Between the two companies, that is 45 job openings. The industries in the industrial park need employees as well, but the problem is that some of those jobs require specific skills that are sometimes hard to obtain.

But the Noble County Economic Development Corporation has partnered with local industries, WorkOne and Freedom Academy to help provide the needed training.

“We support all of those programs,” Fisel said. “We want them (industries) to know that we are glad they are here in Ligonier, we want them to stay in Ligonier and we are going to do everything we can to help them stay here.”

Rick Sherck, executive director of the Noble County EDC, spoke about one of the training programs and how it works. He mentioned WorkOne, which is a career center that help peoples find new or better jobs, choose careers, access training and educational workshops or get the information needed to succeed in today’s job market, according to its website.

“Right now, WorkOne has a lot of money that they do support incumbent workers so they can skill them up,” Sherck said. “We’ve got training classing going on in part of our building two to three days a week. Sometimes in the evening, sometimes in the morning.”

The training is mostly for people who have a job in an industry and they want to learn more skills to become more valuable. At the end of the training, the person participating would receive an industry-recognized credential that would make them qualified for a better paying job, according to Sherck.

The EDC does industry surveys to see what kind of training that specific company needs out of its employees. If there is enough consensus, the EDC will try to facilitate that training program.

Freedom Academy provides adults with cost-effective courses in a wide array of fields. Melissa Carpenter, executive director of Freedom Academy, said that this partnership has been a good one.

“This partnership has been great because employers are not finding enough people to fill their positions, so they are taking people who have been there a year or two and are training them,” Carpenter said. “They basically want to grow their own. It’s in the maintenance positions right now. There are a lot of folks retiring in that field.”

The classes run all year long around two days a week with morning and evening classes. There are about 10-12 people in each class.

The program Carpenter said they are offering right now is for Certified Maintenance and Reliability Technicians, which is basically industrial maintenance. This is about a six-month program.

But how can you enter this program?

“If you want to take a class on your own, most of the folks come through WorkOne or they are there from their employer,” Carpenter said.

Most of the programming that has been offered since Carpenter has been at Freedom Academy has been customized to either the need of the county or the employer.