The Skill UP 3 grant provides an investment opportunity to design a system of initiatives that can impact the immediate critical hiring need in the advanced manufacturing sector while developing a future talent pipeline and retaining current workforce.   This system is undergirded by the data analysis of the region’s advanced manufacturing sector employers’ current and projected skill needs in high-wage, high-demand occupations.  It aligns and customizes training that addresses the skills gap of new hires as well as incumbent workers, provides career awareness of occupations in advanced manufacturing, and creates a career pathway for youth and adults to connect to these opportunities.

Technical literacy is essential to navigating the modern advanced manufacturing world and as the Governor stated “every student should receive education infused with STEM, intellectual curiosity and critical thinking”. The process of learning how to write code teaches a set of skills that is valuable beyond simply using the computers, tablets and smart phones of today. Logical thinking, problem solving and the ability to learn new technologies are proficiencies that are sharpened by learning to code. The Skill Up grant will provide schools with robotics kits, curriculum and technology, professional development training and support for their monthly club meetings.  We will also develop a Resource Library for all CoderDojos to check out additional equipment and materials.  With Skill Up funding we will also enhance the current CoderDojo model by introducing Robotics and Coding in Manufacturing with advanced manufacturing equipment such as 3-D printers. 

The adoption of an employer recognized Work Ethic Certificate is an important tool to help prepare high school students for success in the workplace.  Implementing the program across the region will provide employers with a pipeline of workers with a proven and certified work ethic, who understand the importance of responsibility, teamwork, and perseverance.  We will increase the number of students with these skills by launching the Governor’s Work Ethic Certification program for high school students in seven more schools throughout the region during the 2018/2019 school year. 

We will utilize several options of short-term and long-term training recommended by our industry-led innovation network as part of our comprehensive sector-based career pathway in advanced manufacturing. Advanced manufacturers have identified multiple skill gaps and training needs in order to overcome their current and projected skill shortages. Training proposed will address several of the skill-gap concerns and be provided through Purdue Polytechnic, Vincennes University and Ivy Tech Community College, resulting in industry recognized credentials and/or academic credits.  We have found that one of the most successful short-term training models to be implemented is ‘vestibule’ training.  Vestibule training is a type of instructional training using an area away from the actual worksite, consisting of training duplicating the materials and equipment used on the job.  The purpose of vestibule training is to simulate an actual work setting.  Studies have shown for new hires to ‘hit the ground running’ they must be provided with the tools, education, and information they need to be productive right from the start.  With vestibule training as part of on-boarding process, workers are trained as if on the job, but it does not interfere with the more vital task of production and without compromising speed or quality. The transfer of skills and knowledge to the workplace is maximized since the classroom is a model of the working environment.  New employees start as part of a team, forging connections with co-workers and managers.  This type of program not only builds the company culture and rapport with new employees but drives business growth with less turnover.

The grant supports career pathways in mid- and high-skilled level training for incumbent workers. We will offer multiple training opportunities for incumbent workers.  These may include industrial maintenance positions, front-line supervisory positions, or other positions along the manufacturing career pathway that results in increased skills and increased wages. Incumbent workers will also have the opportunity under this grant to pursue Registered Apprenticeships such as the Industrial Apprenticeship Technology program.  The grant will also expand the longer-term Advanced Internship in Manufacturing (AIM) training program delivered through Vincennes University, which includes a two-year degree in Advanced Manufacturing Technology--Industrial Maintenance that combines cutting-edge curriculum, paid work experience, along with learning highly sought-after business principles and best practices of a world-class manufacturer.