Training program to aid manufacturers

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

PONTOTOC – A new program financed through stimulus money will help manufacturers find qualified employees.
The Rapid Advanced Manufacturing Placement program, or RAMP, is aimed at entry-level workers interested in landing a job with a manufacturer.
The $500,000 program, which launches in March, will be implemented though a partnership involving Three Rivers Planning and Development District, the South Delta Planning & Development District, WIN Job Centers, area economic development agencies and manufacturers.
Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., participated in the announcement at Three Rivers on Wednesday.
He said the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – better known as the stimulus bill – was formed to help create jobs, and RAMP was a product of those efforts.
“This will help a lot of workers,” he said. “It’s always been about jobs and the economy.”
Dislocated workers, low-income individuals and veterans will be recruited and identified and sent through a two-week fast-track program that will determine if they’re qualified for the jobs.
Here’s how it works: Manufacturers will notify the agencies if they are looking to add workers. Through RAMP, job applicants will be interviewed and go through recruitment, assessment, intensive job-skills training through the Mobile Outreach Skills Training, or MOST, program.
The work is done on site, or at a central site via a mobile training lab.
And the program is free for applicants and employers alike.
“We’re concentrating on manufacturing – that’s our niche,” said program director Claudia Follet. “And these are for entry-level jobs, like machine operators, quality inspectors, electrical and mechanical assemblers.”
The first phase of the program lasts two weeks and the training covers topics such as shop math, blueprint reading, metrology, “lean-to-green” manufacturing and hands-on training including CNC operation.

Assessing needs
Follet said that manufacturers would be contacted in the next few weeks to determine what needs they have.
“We want to give them qualified workers,” she said.
“We do a very intensive interview process” with the workers, Follet added. “We don’t want anybody who won’t accept the job after two weeks. They have to be serious about wanting the job, and we have an 85 percent retention rate.”
The program has been implemented in New England and Florida, where 400 new hires have been trained. One hundred percent of the trainees had job interviews and 87 percent got one or more job offers. Wages have ranged from $8 to $23 per hour.
The program also includes a second phase, where a field engineer helps employers design a training program to meet the needs of the manufacturer and the trainee. The field engineer meets with the supervisor and trainee weekly during the eight-week training program of this phase.
A third phase lasting four months involves career mentoring and retention, where the trainee gets career guidance and biweekly visits with the field engineer.
“There aren’t enough qualified people to fill all the manufacturing jobs, and we’re trying to help solve that problem,” Follet said.