Manufacturing Training Where the Jobs Are, the Employers Are, and the People Are
When there’s trouble in Gotham, a signal in the sky calls Batman to where he is needed. Much like the dark knight, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) is answering calls for help, but in manufacturing.
Manufacturers are looking for ways to train and upscale their workforce. Sometimes, in-house training isn’t always easy to do. Additionally, manufacturers are seeking to inspire talent to enter into the manufacturing workforce. Tri-C has come up with a brilliant solution to this problem. Tri-C’s mobile training unit is a 53-foot long truck. The mobility option allows for training to come to manufacturers.
Two years ago the Tri-C Manufacturing Technology Center of Excellence was launched, making it relatively new. According to Booker, the mobile unit was a way of expanding the center’s offerings. The training unit launched in January and went into action in February in Medina county. Tri-C’s mobile training is meant to take the industrial workforce beyond just taking a class to get a job, but preparing for a life-long career.
The mobile training unit features an instructor station and 10 person seating area for students, one designated to be disability accessible. On the other side, the unit also features a hands-on lab to accommodate many training classes through a “plug and pay” design. Visitors at the IndustryWeek Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo (M&T Show) were able to tour the training unit. Alicia Booker, the Vice President of Tri-C, was present at the show and spoke with us about the mobile unit.
Training on Your Doorstep
“How do we put people on track for careers to how do we really capture the innovation that’s in the region,” Booker said about the planning process. The industrial ecosystem that exists within Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia offered an opportunity to capitalize off of that with the strengths at the college.
“We also wanted to be responsive to the needs of industry in Northeast Ohio,” Booker continued, “and what we heard was a need to up-skill, a need for a talent pipeline, how do you get young people involved, how do I continue to train my employees, and all of the centers for workforce training.”
Tri-C wanted to extend its training center beyond Cleveland. “We wanted to be responsive and to be able to do some expansion and put some training where the jobs are where the employers are, and where the people are,” Booker said.
The college knew they had their own driving academy which would make the mobile unit possible to transport. Now it was a matter of design. Booker noted that innovation had to be considered. “How do we design something that can then be responsive to the need, be comfortable to the user, but also be able to expand what we’re trying to do and keep it innovative and high-tech?,” she expressed.
In order to plan the training, Tri-C looked at high demand areas such as industrial maintenance, PLC’s, and CNC machining. If a machine can fit inside, the unit will use it for training. Additionally, the unit has wifi and its own generator so it could be self-contained, although plugging in is also an option.
Engaging the Employer
If Tri-C is looking to get companies to reach out to them, they’ll show the employer what the unit has to offer. “Normally what we try to do is engage the employer,”noted Booker, “We bring out what’s related to what they want, we load up the unit, we show up.”
With the ability to travel the mobile unit can meet manufacturers at their doorstep. The employees don’t have to worry about getting off work and then driving somewhere. “It’s a way to keep the cost of training down because now that employer does not have to worry about either sending employees and paying room and board at another state, nor do they have to worry about the cost of moving this unit. We will bring it onsite,” said Booker. That’s part of being responsive and maintaining competitiveness in our Northeast Ohio region.
Instead of the employer trying to figure out how to train employees across shifts, an added bonus is that they’re able to be onsite for training all week. First, second, and third shift employees can now get the training they need.
A Tool to Grow the Future of Skills and the Workforce
Tri-C is keeping on its toes when it comes to staying on top of innovation. “We’re looking at what we need to do next,” Booker said. “One of the areas that we’re looking to launch some programming is around biomedical manufacturing.” Cleveland and Northeastern Ohio have an abundance of 3D printing and medical technology companies, with the Cleveland Clinic nearby. The mobile unit will also feature new technologies as they arise in order to keep the industry competitive. Booker expressed that Tri-C is looking at “traditional occupations that really have a demand.” Bridging where people are to where new technology is emerging is a priority.
Additionally, skilled workers are needed. Booker noted that the shift of 20-30% of the population in the workforce means awareness is needed. Not just putting out an announcement either, rather something more.
“[W]e need to make sure that we’re not just putting our articles or something on the radio [advertising] another class,” Booker said, “This is more than a class.”
Barriers need to be removed and everyone can try it. These skills are not difficult nor is manufacturing dirty. Once students are through the doors, they can see the possibilities by being hands-on.
The Mobile Lab Seeks Input From the Fastener Industry
Attendees of the North Coast Fastener Association (NCFA) Distributor Social are in for a treat as the mobile training unit will be at the social. Booker expressed her excitement about speaking with fastener professionals about the opportunity.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is hear from [the fastener industry], ‘Okay, how do we relate? What do we have? What don’t we have? How do we begin to build to continue to support that industry?’ So, we’re very interested in that.”
Come prepared to the social prepared to share your concerns, questions, and hopes for the future of the industry. Tri-C is ready to listen!