KALAMAZOO — A new Production Technician Academy is being planned to support southwest Michigan-area advanced manufacturing employers.

The region’s leading manufacturers, together with stakeholders from education, work force development, and economic development have collaborated through the Southwest Michigan Advanced Manufacturing Consortium to draw attention to the great manufacturing career opportunities that exist in the area.

The Consortium members have contributed more than $44,000 in scholarship funds to help offset the cost for qualified candidates to attend the Academy.

The Production Technician Academy is being created at the urging of area advanced manufacturers who indicate that they are always eager to fill positions with qualified applicants. The need for qualified applicants has been a topic of concern shared by the 24 area manufacturers who participate in the Southwest Michigan Advanced Manufacturing Consortium.

The scholarship fund will insure that all interested and qualified candidates gain the training they need for a promising career in advanced manufacturing.

Dave Maurer, CFO and vice president of operations at Humphrey Products in Kalamazoo, said he thinks the Academy will be a boon to area manufacturers as well as to job seekers.

“Having employees, from top to bottom, who are literate in manufacturing is critical to our ability to ensure that our interactions provide ‘wow’ factor for our customers,” Maurer said. “We believe that the curriculum which has been developed for the Academy will provide a great foundation for graduates and provide us with entry level employees who are ready to hit the ground running.”

The Production Technician Academy will include four-and-a-half weeks of competency-based training designed to prepare graduates for entry level positions and successful, long-term careers in manufacturing. Graduates will receive a transcript of demonstrated skills and competencies that manufacturers recognize and value. Each Academy session is expected to accommodate 16 students. The fee for participation is $1,600 per student. Scholarships will be available to pay for the Academy fee.

Training will include 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 usage; and job search and interviewing preparation.

“U.S. manufacturers have invested in cutting edge, advanced technologies to produce high quality goods at costs that can compete with foreign made products,” said Trish Schroeder, director of corporate training at KVCC’s Groves Campus in Texas Township. “This new environment of automated machines, computer driven processes and integrated electronic systems offers an exciting career path for those with an interest and aptitude.”

Schroeder said industry leaders will guide and direct the entrance criteria and curriculum and adjustments will be made constantly to keep up with changes in technology.

Maurer said he’s anxious to see the first Academy get off the ground and said he thinks its students will be well-prepared to step into manufacturing jobs.

“In today’s competitive job market we believe that folks who are considering a career in manufacturing may also be focused on differentiating themselves from their fellow job seekers,” Maurer said. “This Academy provides a relatively fast and low cost way for them to invest in themselves and provide a competitive edge in their efforts to land these jobs. We believe that these individuals’ investment will pay off not only in higher long-term earnings as they grow in the companies they join, but also by helping companies like Humphrey grow more quickly and compete more effectively than they would without Academy trained employees.”

KVCC, Glen Oaks Community College in Centreville, the Michigan Works Kalamazoo-St. Joseph Counties office, the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency and the Kalamazoo-based economic development agency Southwest Michigan First have collaborated to launch the training academy.

The following companies have contributed scholarship funding to launch the Production Technician Academy: Humphrey Products, Stryker, American Axle & Manufacturing, AccroSeal, Landscape Forms, Parker Hannifin, Flowserve, LKF Marketing, Southwest Michigan Tooling Consortium, the Richard and Thelma Hall Foundation, and Schupan and Sons.

For more information about the Academy contact Cindy Buckley, executive director of training at KVCC, (269) 353-1250, cbuckley@kvcc.edu; or Mary Kay Balaguer, director of business services at Glen Oaks Community College, 269-294-4276 or mbalaguer@glenoaks.edu.

To provide scholarship funding, go to www.kvcc.edu/foundation/.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s