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OTC’s CWD, SAMA forming manufacturing group

By Steve Koehler

OTC’s Center for Workforce Development and the Southwest Area Manufacturing Association (SAMA) are teaming up to produce better-trained, homegrown manufacturing workers.

The consortium is in the early stages and would work to share training ideas and resources among its members.

“The primary goal is to basically discuss and address a variety of gaps and needs in common skills and help reduce the leaks in the job-training pipeline,” said Dawn Busick, executive director of OTC’s Center for Workforce Development.

“The training would help strengthen the output of skilled and competent workers for this region’s manufacturing businesses.” Rita Needham, executive director of SAMA, said local manufacturers are being surveyed to see what their needs are in terms of training a skilled workforce.

“The boomers are retiring and we need people in place in the pipeline to replace those leaving. Manufacturing is automating a lot. We need to determine what types of skills are needed to handle the new technology,” she said.

The group plans to examine the creation of programs that would allow unemployed individuals access to training that would provide an entry-point into manufacturing jobs.

The strategy group would be instrumental in deciding what skills should be included in training for areas such as industrial maintenance and general machine operations.

Companies could hire from this trained workforce pool and know what kinds of skills have already been developed. It is possible that grant money might be available for a consortium-based training program.

“This collaborative effort will serve as a key factor in helping create a solution for homegrown manufacturing talent,” Busick said.

The group approach could help manufacturers with budget issues.

“This group can help reduce the cost of training. If a dozen companies need the same training, it can help cut costs by offering to all at the same time,” Needham said.

Reggie Hoskins, CWD’s workforce specialist business manager, said the consortium could also explore hiring practices and sharing best practices in place at the various firms.

“When we pool our resources, we can offer training at reasonable costs. Without the group, training might not be available,” Hoskins said.


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Steve Koehler

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