Grant funding allows manufacturing coalition to reach more students
Pulaski County was recently awarded in the second round of Innovative Career and Technical Training grants that are designed to target new learning opportunities at the regional level, with collaborations between local businesses and education partners.
The Innovative Curriculum grant supports key sectors of Indiana’s state and regional economics including agriculture, advanced manufacturing, energy, automotive, construction, precision machining, robotics and welding.
With the grant funding, more than 2,500 students will be served and the vast majority of students will receive dual credit to post-secondary study or industry recognized credentials.
The Pulaski County Community Foundation that is the fiscal agent of the grant will receive $82,354. That funding, along with a $28,195 local match, will be used by the recently formed Pulaski County Manufacturing Coalition which will lead proposed innovative curriculum, called RAM-Tech, through integration and alignment to business needs, state-approved standards, and Amatrol curriculum.
The idea of applying for the grant was introduced to Pulaski County Community Development Commission Executive Director Nathan Origer by one of the career cooperatives. The grant criteria follows the lead of the Pulaski County Manufacturing Coalition that is an informal group of local human resources and operations employees from local companies. Origer said the group meets once a month or every other month to discuss issues and offer incumbent workforce training on soft skills with Ivy Tech.
“We have known that soft skills are not the only thing that need to be addressed, but hands-on stuff is really hard for us to do with the group because we don’t have one centralized sharable location,” Origer said. “Maintenance and repair is something that everyone knows is a big issue. We started looking at the approved courses that the state has and saw it was there. We decided this is something that we wanted to pursue.”
According to the grant application, the RAM-Tech pipeline program “will introduce industrial repair and maintenance curriculum.” It will offer students a Workforce Investment Act and INtraining-approved certified production technician training program.
The matching funding for the project will come from CDC, PACE, private cash donations and in-kind donations. Origer said quite a number of local employees are making a contribution.
The cash donations will help fund the training modules and computers and the in-kind donations will come in several forms such as developing the curriculum, working with maintenance employees to ensure the curriculum ties in with local maintenance, and ensuring that the program offers dual degree opportunity and/or professional certification.
Origer said students will need to finish a few college courses before they will be able to attend the maintenance and repair classes.
“The final class will be where at least part of it will be an internship or other on-the-job opportunity,” he said. “That is another aspect of the in-kind matches that most of the employers have agreed at least tentatively that they will take on students in their final year of this. Their maintenance people will be shadowed.”
The curriculum that is proposed to start in the fall of 2015, will be offered at West Central but the hope is to make it available to students at both schools.