Ivy Tech boosting manufacturing

July 28th, 2013

News Coverage:

Published: July 28, 2013 3:00 a.m.

Ivy Tech boosting manufacturing

Matches needs of employers, their employees

Sarah Janssen | The Journal Gazette

Indiana leads the nation in number of job certificates awarded in certain areas of manufacturing, with Ivy Tech Corporate College as the top provider.

The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council rated Indiana as the leading state and the college as the leading provider for certifications awarded in 2012 at a board meeting last month.

Indiana earned the top rating by awarding more certifications than other states: 7,078 Certified Production Technician and 574 Certified Logistics Technician certifications, with a majority coming from Ivy Tech.

Ohio awarded the second most certificates with 6,437 CPT and 1,069 CLT certifications.

The Manufacturing Skill Standards Council is an industry-led training, assessment and certification organization. The nonprofit focuses on front-line production and material-handling workers.

“MSSC certifications provide assurance that Indiana workers in advanced manufacturing and logistics are here and ready to contribute,” Ivy Tech President Thomas Snyder said in a written statement. “This recognition tells the world that our state is ready to help companies grow and expand.”

Ivy Tech Corporate College works with businesses, industry and organizations to provide relevant training in areas such as human resources, food service, management, accounting, information technology and health.

MSSC Executive Director Neil Reddy said Indiana has been much more proactive with the organization than other states, and Ivy Tech also has a long history of partnership with MSSC.

The certifications awarded locally were through a partnership with WorkOne Northeast to train under- and unemployed workers who lost their jobs as a result of the economic downturn, said Kathleen Randolph, president and CEO of WorkOne Northeast.

The logistics technician certification is particularly sought, she said, and helped those who lost their jobs, many of whom held a high school diploma.

“That credential says this individual possesses the occupational skills an employer is searching for,” she said.

Those receiving the CLT certifications can work in a occupations including loaders for tank cars, trucks and ships; truck drivers; and conveyor operators.

CPT certificate recipients can be aircraft assemblers, fiberglass fabricators, machinists and welders among hundreds of other positions in manufacturing.

Jim Aschliman, executive director for the northeast region of Ivy Tech, said the college works with the manufacturing sector more than any other. But he said the school’s offerings are diverse and meet different needs for local businesses.

“It’s really a pretty big footprint. It’s probably bigger than what a lot of people think,” Aschliman said.

Ivy Tech Corporate College Northeast under other names has served the area for more than 40 years but changed its name two years ago, Aschliman said. The college handles more than 300 training projects a year, including contract training for businesses and open-enrollment professional development courses.

“We do a large amount of repeat business,” Aschliman said. “That speaks volumes of the value people see in us.”

A strength for the college is that it is able to customize training for businesses, Randolph said.

“Corporate College can quite frankly create just about any training program on any topic,” she said.

Ivy Tech Corporate College was contacted by Easter Seals Arc of Northeast Indiana to provide reading classes for people who use its services, said Donna Elbrecht, Easter Seals president and CEO.

She said the organization, which works with people who have intellectual, social and behavioral disabilities, lacked the money and experience to develop a curriculum and teach the reading classes with current employees.

And the college can provide the training at a price that’s competitive, Aschliman said.

“We’re a pretty good value in my estimation,” he said. “We’re part of a college; the larger institution allows us to be competitive in our pricing.”

While the price is competitive, what the college also does, Randolph said, is maintain training facilities to expose students to equipment used by regional employers, Randolph said.

Fort Wayne Metals CEO Scott Glaze has been an enthusiastic supporter of the area’s Big Goal – to increase the number of residents with a high-quality degree or credential to 60 percent by 2025, said Dennis Rohrs, director of human resources with Fort Wayne Metals. The company was seeking a certificate that its already highly skilled, highly effective workforce could benefit from.

The company found it in the advanced manufacturing certificate offered by Ivy Tech Corporate College, although two additional classes were added to the six-class requirement to better serve Fort Wayne Metals employees, Rohrs said.

Fort Wayne Metals manufactures medical wiring, and with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act starting to make changes in the industry, many of the company’s customers are looking to the manufacturer to cut its prices, Rohrs said.

“The workforce of the future has to be faster, better,” Rohrs said. “It will take innovation and investment to meet the challenges of the next five to 10 years.”

The company pays for the classes as well as the books for its employees. The first class to complete the program finished in the spring, but already Rohrs reports the company is seeing its investment pay off. In two classes, instructors taught employees to use a lean philosophy in manufacturing to preserve value with less work, and senior management reported “the savings employees found was staggering,” into the thousands of dollars, Rohrs said.

“Those two classes alone will pay for our program to date,” he said. “We have bright, capable people. “We’re trying to give them the tools to innovate faster, stronger, better.”