Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast in Fort Wayne, Ind., is now offering a new CNC tooling certification program that officials and local manufacturers hope will bring more skilled workers to the local economy.
Ivy Tech’s vice chancellor for Academic Affairs Cathy Maxwell explained that there are currently 184 job openings for CNC operators in Northeast Indiana.
The school hosted an open house and invited 80 representatives from area manufacturers, so they could find out more about the program.
Norm Hartman, a controller at Auburn Manufacturing, an auto parts manufacturer, said that businesses are facing two major issues when it comes to staffing: capacity and capability.
“The demand for skilled workers is growing, and we are trying to replace the craftsmen who are retiring,” he said, citing especially a need for workers who are qualified to use these CNC (computer numerical control) machine tools, such as CNC lathes and CNC tube bending machines.
The students who complete Ivy Tech’s program will become certified CNC machine operators through NIMS, the National Incident Management System. The school started with two non-credit CNC classes this summer in Noble and Allen counties; the first accredited classes began on Aug. 25 at the Northeast campus in Fort Wayne.
Ivy Tech’s program guarantees interviews with more than 20 employers in Northeast Indiana for qualified graduates.
Hartman says that students with certification are a big asset for companies that work with CNC tools. For example, a student who already knows how to use a CNC tube bending machine will cost the company less than one who does not, as that education eliminates the need for costly on-the-job training.
Nathan Esslinger, manager of C&A Tool’s Swiss machining division, stated that his company is more interested in “growing” good employees who come from these types of programs.
“Our customers have very specialized needs. We do hire people with strong manufacturing backgrounds who lack certification, but overall, finding strong candidates with the drive to learn, and training them in-house, has worked the best for us,” he said.
Staff members at C&A have spoken to Ivy Tech’s students in the past about the company’s career opportunities, and many Ivy Tech students have also toured C&A’s facilities.