Manufacturing companies operating in the Malta, Illinois region may soon see an increase in their manufacturing staffing thanks to a $609,000 grant that was given to companies and local colleges to provide hands-on training programs for high skill manufacturing jobs, the Malta Daily Chronicle reports.
According to the news source, Kishwaukee College teamed up with 20 other community colleges throughout the region to develop the Advanced Manufacturing Training program. Karen Schmitt, executive director of the Center for Business Development and Continuing Education, said the additional funds will support the school's Automated Engineering Technology program for years to come, which will supply the state with much-needed skilled manufacturing workers.
"There’s just a real mismatch of job opportunities that require skills in manufacturing and the pool of labor trying to find employment in the industry," she said.
According to the news source, the Manufacturing Institute believes there are currently 600,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs around the country. Schmitt said the training program is akin to a work/study initiative in which manufacturers take on apprentice-like workers to give them a first-hand account of what the industry holds. Through the program, students can work part time at a manufacturing facility while earning credit toward a two-year degree of specialized certificate.
The program is not limited to just typical students, but can benefit high school students, veterans and anyone looking to make a career switch.
According to the news source, the money was drawn from a $13 million federal funding program called the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Program. The initiative was set up to help community colleges develop programs that encourage relationships between schools and employers.
"I think we’re really looking to further link employers with employees who are well trained," said Sara Pohl, dean of the Career Technologies Department at Kishwaukee College. "I think it’s really going to help us expand our reach."
Manufacturing staffing is the focus of many organizations right now, with the National Associated of Manufacturers hosting the first annual Manufacturing Day alongside the Manufacturing Institute on October 5. The event will underscore the importance of the manufacturing sector to the whole economy, and how to make manufacturing jobs more attractive and seem less archaic.