Koch Enterprises Partners with Ivy Tech for Skill UP

Evansville - Students can now get paid to earn an advanced manufacturing certificate through a new program at Ivy Tech Community College Southwest.

Skill UP Indiana! is an 11-week advanced manufacturing program. Students will earn $12.50 an hour throughout the program, which includes five weeks of class time for 40 hours a week, as well as on-the-job training with the possibility for direct hire at local companies after completion.

Ivy Tech Southwest Chancellor Jonathan Weinzapfel discussed the program during a news conference at the Southwest Indiana Chamber, along with representatives from local industry, community, education and business who recently formed the Southwest Indiana Workforce Coalition.

Enrollment is open for the first class, with a cap at 94 students. Classes start March 6. The six credit hours earned during the program can be transferred to an associate degree program.

Skill UP is open to high school students, as well as unemployed and underemployed adults. There is no cost to students for participating.

"We know that an obstacle to receiving more education for a better-paying job is that folks must keep working the jobs they have in order to meet their basic needs. ... They don't have the opportunity to simply quit that job and seek the training they may need in order to qualify for a better-paying job," Weinzapfel said.

Indiana Chamber's most recent annual employer workforce survey noted 45 percent of jobs remain unfilled because of unqualified applicants, Weinzapfel said.

Jennifer Slade, Koch Enterprises, Inc. marketing director, said they have a "really tough time" finding highly skilled employees. Slade said they need high-tech applicants who know how to operate machinery.

"We're just not finding them in the market place right now," Slade said. "(Skill UP) is a much needed opportunity in order to get people in the community trained in the areas where we need them. Especially the fact they'll get paid while going to school - that's huge."

In 2016, Ivy Tech Southwest received a $666,506 grant from Indiana Department of Workforce Development to fund Skill UP Indiana!

The grant is part of $7.7 million from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development to fund 12 programs across the state. The goal is to provide sector-focused training and education for in-demand jobs in Southwest Indiana.

Skill UP's focus is on the region's third-largest area for job opportunities: advanced manufacturing. Manufacturing is expected to grow by 5.8 percent in the next decade in Southwest Indiana, Weinzapfel said.

The field has a gap in employment, according to him, because of aging workforce and brain drain with existing employees; as well as a high turnover of under-skilled, uninformed workers and misconceptions of manufacturing.

"I think it creates an incredible opportunity for folks who are working that know that they need additional skills and training to get a better job to help change the family tree,"  said Bo Drake, Ivy Tech executive director of workforce development.

Apply for Skill UP at ivytech.edu/skillup.

Watch a 44 News segment on Skill UP: http://44news.wevv.com/community-coalition-skill-indiana/


Megan Erbacher, Courier & Press