YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Manufacturing plants across the Mahoning Valley are looking to train their employees in industrial maintenance.
“One of the things we have heard over the last few years is this dire need for industrial maintenance – people who actually service the machines,” says Alex Hertzer, senior project manager for the Mahoning Valley Manufacturing Coalition. “That’s everything from the mechanical side of things to the electrical side of things with PLCs [programmable logical controllers].”
Through the coalition, companies can form a cohort of trainees drawn from more than one business.
“We partner with Eastern Gateway on upskilling opportunities for our employers,” Hertzer says. “We have a machining program and the industrial maintenance program, where we are able to bring in our manufacturers.”
The training program also helps Eastern Gateway secure enough students for a class.
“Eastern Gateway has been fortunate to partner with the MVMC and take advantage of the partnerships we have. Businesses can come together to form a cohort,” says Amelia Taggart, director of workforce at Eastern Gateway. “We have several businesses that have sent six or seven people and we’ve formed individual business cohorts as well.”
The companies who send employees to the introduction to industrial maintenance class front the tuition. They are reimbursed through Ohio’s TechCred program, which completed its 20th round of funding in May. Reimbursed employers numbered 367 and 4,297 Ohioans earned tech-focused credentials.
The industrial maintenance class is the first step in a competency-based apprenticeship program. Apprentices get their book training and information through the Eastern Gateway program and then work with a mentor at their workplaces. Employees are able to take the classes in the evenings.
“We’ve aligned it with our registered apprenticeship program,” Hertzer says. “Students can come out with their journey workers card when they’re finished.”
And the apprenticeship can be completed in two years. As the employee goes through each module, he earns industry credentials.
The coalition takes care of the technical assistance and the paperwork, making it easier for the employers.
“All they have to do is sign an employer agreement and follow that training plan, rather than having to do all that technical assistance themselves,” Hertzer says. “So that is another benefit to our MVMC members.”