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At a glance
The Wells County employers sending workers to industrial maintenance training are:
•Buckhorn Inc.
•Metaldyne M&A Bluffton LLC
•Edge Manufacturing
•General Manufacturing Inc.
•Inventure Foods
•Almco Steel Products
•Pretzels Inc.
•Alexin LLC
•Bluffton Motor Works
Source: Tim Ehlerding, Wells County Economic Development

Workers in Wells hit books

15 from 9 firms learning machine maintenance skills

Ehlerding

Wells County manufacturers have a serious shortage of trained maintenance workers.

We’re not talking about broom-pushers. These are the folks who get million-dollar machines back up and running after they break down and bring production to a standstill.

With input from the companies, Ivy Tech has developed a six-month course that will cover basics in industrial maintenance, including machining, motors, electricity and fluid power. Nine employers have enrolled 15 exemplary employees in the classes, which begin next week at Norwell High School, officials announced Tuesday.

WorkOne is paying the tuition, which costs up to $4,500 each, depending on how many training modules a student takes, said Kathleen Randolph, president and CEO of WorkOne Northeast.

Workers who successfully complete the 200 hours of training – which includes hands-on and online lessons – can look forward to promotions and pay raises in their companies. Industrial maintenance positions pay more than general assembly work.

WorkOne pays for the training because it will help raise average wages in the region and improve the workforce, which can help lure new employers, Randolph said.

Tim Ehlerding identified the critical training need by talking to employers in and around Bluffton.

The director of Wells County Economic Development approached Ivy Tech, WorkOne and Norwell High School to form the partnership, which is billed as the first of its kind in northeast Indiana.

Jim Aschliman, executive director of Ivy Tech’s Corporate College, said it’s unique that a local economic development official would initiate training for multiple companies to be delivered at one time.

The offering is proving popular.

“We are already getting more requests for a second class,” Ehlerding said.

Adams and Noble county officials are discussing partnering with Ivy Tech to offer similar training for manufacturers in their areas, and Ehlerding is cheering them on.

“Yes, I want Wells County’s workforce to be the best it can be,” he said. “But my hope is that all of northeast Indiana will do this.”

sslater@jg.net

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