July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

Manufacturing partnership graduates class

LAFAYETTE TWP. — Higher education leaders in Medina County are working with the manufacturing industry to train workers and strengthen the area’s manufacturing base.

That partnership led to the first class of the Certified Production Technician program at the Medina County University Center, which graduated Friday. The purpose of the class was to help workers succeed in today’s competitive manufacturing environment while meeting the needs of manufacturing companies, instructor and Lodi Mayor Dan Goodrow said.

“I think the really important thing is education never stops,” Goodrow said. “They demonstrated beyond my expectations what they were able to do. They took a course that was essentially a semester long and completed it in a month.”

The class was created through a collaboration of the University Center, the Medina County Career Center and the Medina County Workforce Development Center, also known as MedinaWorks. A national program by the Manufacturing Skills Standard Council, the training largely was funded by a $75,000 grant through MedinaWorks, University Center Director Jim Boyes said.

They worked with the Medina County Manufacturing Consortium to implement the program. The consortium, made up of about 25 manufacturing businesses in Medina County, consulted with educators about what they look for and need in skilled workers, Boyes said.

The class covered four areas: safety, quality, production and maintenance. Each area had 12 chapters, with tests for each and then an overall exam. Some of the pass/fail tests required at least an 80 percent score, Goodrow said.

“There were times when (the students) said, ‘You want me to take a test when? I don’t know if I’m ready,’ ” he said. “Well, every one of them was ready.”

About half of the 11 graduates already were in manufacturing jobs and looking to hone their skills. On Monday, the class will meet again to polish their resumes with MedinaWorks, Goodrow said.

Graduate Rick Stewart, 61, of Brunswick, said he was laid off from his electrical construction job in November. Layoffs are cyclical in his line of work, he said, but he needed additional training to become more viable in the workforce.

“My current career was going nowhere, so I decided I needed some cross-training,” Stewart said. “The training was much more broad and involved than I expected.”

That training included production methods, quality control and using production machines, all new to Stewart.

Students attended class for eight hours a day, for a total of 160 hours, Boyes said.

“It’s the equivalent of a 10-hour college course in one month,” he said.

After testing throughout the course and an exit exam, the students received a certificate of completion from the Manufacturing Skills Standard Council. Goodrow said “three or four” companies already have expressed interest in hiring the graduates.

“Now it’s time to move forward to the manufacturing base in the county,” he said. “I think they’ll do any company in this area proud.”

Boyes said the partners will offer similar programs in the future.

“We decided we needed to work smart and partner with each other,” he said. “It makes sense for the people graduating and the taxpayers.”

Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or lhlavinka@medina-gazette.com.