Michiana Feels Heat of Global Competition because Advanced Manufacturing Jobs Call For Higher Skills than ever Before
Workforce Developers Look Beyond Strategic Skills Initiative with Focus on the Future Forum; Staying Competitive is Key!
light of the higher math and problem-solving skills neces-sary to handle production duties suc- cessfully in Michiana manufacturing, several workforce-development pro- grams are operating under the Northern Indiana Strategic Skills Initiative (SSI) to prepare individuals for advanced manufacturing positions.
A project aimed at the workforce needs of orthopedic-device manufacturers "will yield skilled workers for the 21st cen- tury economy, an increase in workers' wages and living standards, and the potential for students to go on to associate's and bachelor's degrees, thus increasing the educational level for the region and the state of Indiana," said Dan Hendricks, vice president of operations, Workforce Development Group, Inc. (WDG) and Chuck Pressler, WDG's vice president of research and resource development, in a new report. The July 31, 2007, document, "Stra- tegic Skills Initiative, First Year Report, Northern Indiana Workforce Board — EGR2" (PDF format), details the progress of efforts to address the workforce needs of advanced manufacturers in Northern Indiana.
The collaborative SSI efforts in advanced manufacturing include: a major effort to assist students with tuition expenses; an orthopedic solution with equipment purchased by Ivy Tech Community College; an orthopedic and advanced manufacturing solution by Ivy Tech and WorkOne of Northern Indiana regarding basic manufacturing, welding, and computer numeric controls (CNC) machining; and 21st Century Skills Focus on the Future — Success in the 21st Century Economy.
Orthopedic Solution — Equipment
One of the jewels of the newly opened Warsaw Orthopedic and Advanced Manufacturing Training Center is a CNC machining lathe, which along with accessories was purchased with SSI funds. Instructors are using this state-of-the-art machine and others to teach basic manufacturing principles and pro- cesses. The SSI funding provided an enormous push, thereby establish- ing conditions favorable enough to bring to fruition Ivy Tech's much-discussed Orthopedic and Advanced Manufacturing Training Center. Several "intense" months of local fundraising in Kosciusko County, buying equipment and constructing the center "heralds a momentous change, as a community that normally is divided in its proprietary business activities has come together for its mutual benefit," the report said.
Ivy Tech and WDG have formed partnerships with Kosciusko County companies, all of which compete against each other to sell proprietary orthopedic products in the global marketplace: Biomet, Inc.; DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.; Medtronic Sofamor Danek; Paragon Medical; Symmetry Medical Othy; and Zimmer, Inc. In addition, other second- and third-tier suppliers to the orthopedic industry have joined the training effort. All of these companies have contributed resources to build and equip the center, and SSI "provided the wherewithal to stimulate these collab- orative efforts," Hendricks and Pressler said.
The SSI funding has influenced — either directly or indirectly — the following activities:
MSSC Certification — 20 participants have competed the entire nine-college-credit basic manufacturing program leadering to the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) certification;
Extra Tutoring — participants are being provided extra tutoring in preparation for taking the MSSC certification exam;
Second Attempts at MSSC — 14 participants have enrolled for a second time in the basic manufacturing program, seeking, upon successful completion, nine college credits and MSSC certification;
Welding Program — 11 participants have completed the entire welding program;
Welding Exam — nine participants passed the American Welding Society (AWS) examination; and
Second Round of Welding Training — 11 participants have launched a second round of welding training.
Ivy Tech's ultimate goal is to integrate the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, Inc. (NIMS) and AWS certifications directly into the Manufacturing Technology classes. Ivy Tech students will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree with affiliated industry certifications.
Orthopedic and Advanced Manufacturing
Solutions — Certifications at Ivy Tech
In another SSI project regarding solutions for the orthopedic and advanced manufacturing sectors, Workforce Development Group has accomplished organizational and administrative actions to help launch Ivy Tech programs for certifications including MSSC, NIMS and AWS.
MSSC Certification — MSSC modules of production awareness, quality, safety and preventive maintenance are being supported with additional hands-on training in mathematics, gauging, blueprint reading and machining. Ivy Tech provides each successful student with nine credit hours and the opportunity to test for the MSSC certification.
AWS Certification — In the spring of 2007, Ivy Tech North Central in South Bend received a mechanism to distribute all AWS certifications because Ivy Tech's lead welding instructor earned designation as a licensed AWS regional certifier. Ivy Tech now uses SSI funding to certify trained welders.
NIMS Certification — Ivy Tech's instructor has completed three of four credentials to become licensed as a NIMS certifier. Ivy Tech North Central will submit a self-study to NIMS by Oct. 1, 2007, and students in current classes are being beta-tested to NIMS standards.
On Angels Wings — The Northern Indiana SSI program has provided resources to a South Bend nonprofit organization, On Angels Wings, to fund the training of 30 individuals from marginal communities (homeless, ex-offenders, and long-term impoverished) in entry-level manufacturing tasks, such as forklift driver certification, first aid/first responder training, Occupational Safety and Health Administration rules, measurement, and ISO9000, a family of standards for quality management systems as maintained by the International Organization for Standardization, based in Geneva, Switzerland. The U.S. member of ISO is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in New York, a private nonprofit organization with close links to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Vincennes University — SSI activities have helped Vincennes University create local training programs in three occupations: CNC machining; industrial maintenance; and industrial technology. The university and its partners secured for training purposes donation of a 7,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, containing a wide variety of traditional and computer-controlled machines. A consortium of manufacturers has been engaged extensively with both Vincennes University and the South Bend Community School Corporation in developing industry-relevant awareness and high-tech training opportunities for high school students throughout Northern Indiana.
A number of valuable partnerships have emerged from this effort: Kosciusko Chamber Manufacturing Council and the chamber president have advocated forcefully in support of skill training in Kosciusko County; Ivy Tech has established a firm partnership with WDG and WorkOne to provide credentialing opportunities for individuals in the emergent and incumbent workforces. The certifications will help improve partnerships with local high schools, and Ivy Tech will be able to work with local precision machining, welding, and other businesses to provide certifications to employees; and Ivy Tech recently signed an agreement with Purdue University, paving the way for students to transfer credits earned in Ivy Tech's Manufacturing and Industrial Technology Associate's degree program to Purdue's program for an Industrial Technology bachelor's degree.
21st Century Skills — Focus on the Future —
Success in the 21st Century Economy
During the past year, WDG has helped organize eight meetings to establish a strategy aimed at creating an ongoing forum of information about future economic developments and potentials in the region. The outcome of these meetings is a series of programs dedicated to examining economic trends that will impact Michiana's economy by 2021.
"We are trying to get our region to realize we have to move ourselves into a more highly skilled environ- ment, with greater facility for innovation," Hendricks and Pressler said. "Our region needs to be home to cutting-edge advanced manufac- turing entitites, and this program is an attempt to work with a wide range of community leaders, educators, workers and businesses to examine what are we going to do to make our area a viable entity on the world's economic stage."
The Forum on the Future potentially could perform as a vehicle not only to examine economic trends that undoubtedly will impact the regional economy through 2021, but also to facilitate the development of an agenda to assure continued economic growth and competitiveness.
"This is the next logical step after SSI — to examine the longer-term future and begin to identify future occupational and skills shortages, root causes and effective solutions to them," Hendricks and Presser explained.
This ongoing dialogue could reap some impressive future impacts, they added, including "increased individual prosperity due to business profitability resulting from a regional environment and cuture based on aggressive and innovative growth." In addition, the forum could create opportunities for business suppliers and customers to:
be close to market:
provide skilled and unskilled labor that is available and afforable;
gain access to distribution and logistics assets, including high-speed Internet availability;
use energy that is available and affordable;
identify regional R & D expertise; and
live in communities with attributes providing a high quality of life.
Among its next key steps, Workforce Development Group plans to convene five county-specific meetings in the fall of 2007 to facilitate conversations regarding economic growth and competitiveness (to be held in Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall, and St. Joseph counties in Northern Indiana). Thereafter, a regional summit will be planned for the spring of 2008 with invitations extended to business managers, elected officials, educators, labor representatives, and others "to discuss effective next steps. The critical question to be answered is 'What will it take to be successful in a 21st century economy?'"
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