OSHTEMO — The next Production Technician Academy at Kalamazoo Valley Community College begins on Jan. 30. Evening classes are now being offered. Classes will run from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Graduation will be held at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4. Informational sessions about the Academy are set for 4 p.m. on Dec. 18 and Jan. 16 at The Groves Campus.
The Academy was designed by local employers who were looking for a way to meet the growing demand for qualified production workers and fill local manufacturing jobs. Cutting-edge, advanced technologies have fostered a new manufacturing environment with automated machines, computer-driven processes and integrated electronic systems. The Production Technician Academy is a competency-based, fast-track, industry-designed training program to prepare production workers for an advanced manufacturing environment.
Ben Urban graduated from the academy in August and has been working more than 40 hours a week in the manufacturing field since then. His English degree had landed him part-time work in a library and he was also driving a bread delivery truck before he became trained as a production technician. Before he enrolled in the academy, Urban reviewed the school’s informational packet that detailed the state’s shortage of skilled workers.
“It seemed like it was perfectly made to fit local companies’ needs,” Urban said of the training program. “For me, it seemed like the perfect fit at the perfect time.”
Urban said he got a phone call and was offered work within an hour after his second post-graduation interview. “The training was absolutely worthwhile,” Urban said. “I’m very happy.”
The Production Technician Academy is housed at Kalamazoo Valley’s Groves Campus and includes competency-based training designed to prepare graduates for entry level positions and successful, long-term careers in manufacturing. Graduates receive a transcript of demonstrated skills and competencies that manufacturers recognize and value.
Training includes an introduction to the manufacturing industry; safety and OSHA regulation training; lean manufacturing training; team work group participation; applied math fundamentals; industrial blueprint reading; precision measurement; quality management training; basic electrical and mechanical training; an introduction to programmable logic control; basic industrial fluid power training; computer use; and job search and interviewing preparation.
“Manufacturers in southwest Michigan have invested heavily in technologies which allow them to meet the highest quality standards, quickly,” said Cindy Buckley, executive director of training. “These investments have enabled them to compete in the global market place. These investments have led to challenges in their ability to find qualified workers. They partnered with KVCC and Glen Oaks Community College to provide the Production Technician Academy as a way to fill the talent pipeline.”