Indiana Steps Up with Workforce Training

By May 16, 2007General

Indiana has occupied folks at the NAM and Manufacturing Institute a little more than usual lately. NAM President John Engler spoke last Thursday at Purdue’s Advancing Manufacturing Summit, and next Monday is the big kick-off in Columbus for the next Dream It! Do It! campaign. Joe Loughery, chairman of the trustees of the Manufacturing Institute and President at Indiana-based Cummins Engine, has been a real leader in promoting workforce development programs, and Monday’s launch is yet more evidence of his foresight — and the state’s.

For example:

Thirty-eight Hoosiers have become the first to complete a program designed to raise the basic level of the employees’ workplace literacy skills. The workers were employees of Boston Scientific and completed training to increase their level of performance in reading, math and digital literacy. More than 2,500 workers at 10 companies were part of the initiative. Training will be concluded later this year at the other organizations.

No surprise to see Boston Scientific stepping up to the challenge. Manufacturing medical equipment requires a high level of skills and flexiblity, but everything starts with reading and math. The great thing, too, is that Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development program can be adapted to the industry and training required.

In order to receive their certificate, Boston Scientific workers had to show an increased level of performance in reading, math, and digital literacy. As part of the grant, a new contextually-based training curriculum is being developed for manufacturers of health care products that can be used to increase workplace skills for other manufacturers. Under the training, individual critical skills plans for each worker were developed.

The training workers receive under this program is driven by employers’ specific needs for basic workplace skill education, focusing on the foundational academic and employability skills required for success in the modern workplace. They include basic reading, math, communication, problem solving, critical thinking, and computer literacy skills. The education is contextualized to the specific workplace, in that educational providers develop a curriculum that includes specific terminology, materials, and applications from the company hosting the education.

The lack of skilled employees remains one of manufacturers’ greatest concerns, a shortage that is moving business to action. This nation definitely needs more of what Indiana is doing.

We’ll be in Columbus Monday for the Dream It! Do It! launch and will report back here at the blog. Our first time in Indiana, the most manufacturing intensive state in the country. (A center for medical manufacturing, too.) Should be fun — and informative.