By JEROD CLAPP
NEW ALBANY —
As a pipe welder at Jeffboat for the last 15 years, Terri Kidd said she’s happy where her career has taken her.
But with another certification under her belt, she said she’s glad she’s has more opportunities ahead.
“I’m very content in what I do, but you never know what the market or the economy is going to do,” Kidd said. “I now have this certificate, which I never thought I would have gotten on my own.”
Kidd and more than 10 other employees at local companies graduated Monday from WorkOne’s Manufacturing Skill Standards Council Certified Production Technician program. Partnered with Ivy Tech Corporate College, the program gives workers a broader view of how different components of manufacturing come together.
Kidd said with a chance to continue to move upward in her own company, she’s excited about what the certification might do for her.
“This just broadened my knowledge base so that if I chose to go into something like maintenance, I could,” Kidd said. “It was very empowering.”
Neither employers nor employees had to pay for involvement in the program, but employers paid employees while they took the extra training.
Ron McKulick, executive director of WorkOne’s Region 10 Workforce Board, said while perceptions of manufacturing jobs don’t usually include some kind of strenuous training, it’s becoming more of a desired trait among employers.
“Credentials are more important today than ever before,” McKulick said. “This can help give employees the wherewithal to jump in and succeed.”
Victor Burgos, the instructor for the course, said most of the students in this class passed. He said their chances of advancing in manufacturing increase with the certification.
“This is the kind of thing that can remove barriers that impede success,” Burgos said. “Now, they can continue to contribute to their companies.”
Gary MacDonald, a general manager with Metals USA in Jeffersonville, said he’s glad the three employees he sent to the training program are going to have more chances at promotions, but also that they’re going to be more of an asset to the company. He said with two of them already in leadership positions, they’re going to help spread the word about what they learned.
“It’s just getting people to understand the dynamics of how a company works,” MacDonald said. “If I can get the message to them on how the trickle-down effect works, I’m another step ahead.”
Kidd is looking at the possibility of more training to see where she can go.
“I’m already thinking about what I might look into for more certifications through Ivy Tech,” she said. “Maybe I’ll look at certified welding instruction. I think all the safety information we learned showed me I might be a good safety officer.”
McKulick said with the success of this last class, WorkOne may look at offering the training on a continual basis, giving employers more chances to give their employees a macro view of how manufacturing comes together.
MacDonald said investing the time in training for employees gives his company a chance to promote them from within to higher positions instead of looking outside for qualified applicants. He said as new employees take lower-level jobs, they learn the company and can have the chance to go through the same training as the ones that came before them.
“It’s hard to go to the marketplace to hire someone with all the skills you need,” MacDonald said. “But we try to make that up with internal training. You can only do that to a certain point and that’s where something like this comes in.”