Manufacturing Partnership Builds Southland’s Workforce

EAST HAZEL CREST, IL–(ENEWSPF)–July 9, 2012—It could be a match made in heaven: pairing up to 131 people needing good paying jobs with manufacturers who can’t find enough skilled workers to punch-in. That’s what the Calumet Green Manufacturing Partnership (CGMP) aims to do in its Manufacturing Skills Job Training Program that is funded, in part, by an $850,000 three-year grant for the southland region from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

The program offers participants an eight to 20 week fast-track to earning a good salary while acquiring skills and credentials needed for such jobs as machine tool operators and programmers (computer numerical control or CNC machine technology), punch press operators, molding and casting production technicians, quality assurance inspectors, factory automation technicians and more. Students also have opportunities to master print reading, precision measuring, safety and the fundamentals of CNC milling and turning, including basic programming skills that can earn them credentials through the Manufacturing Skills Standard Council and the National Institute of Metalworking Skills. To top it off, they can apply their credentials earned in the program towards the  62 credit hours needed for an associate’s degree.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, physically fit and undergo a thorough screening process to ensure that they are work-ready. This includes lengthy reading and math assessment testing, drug screening, interviews, dexterity testing and additional sector-specific skills analysis.  Skills and certifications earned through CGMP can lead to jobs that pay hourly wages of $12-$14 for quality assurance, $13-17 for basic CNC machining/factory automation and $15-$21 for advanced machining/factory automation. That’s roughly $23,000 to $40,000 a year. Participants who complete an associate’s degree in manufacturing technology can earn an annual income of $60,000.

In addition to offering southland manufacturers a high quality workforce, CGMP helps improve employers’ productivity by training existing workers who are eligible to participate in CGMP elected courses. The group also provides partial grant-funded tuition for some entry-level employees and, along with other organizations, pays half the salary of new employees hired through the program for up to two months.

The Calumet Green Manufacturing Partnership is a collaboration of organizations working together to enhance the manufacturing industry in the Calumet Region of Illinois, which includes Chicago’s south side and south suburban Cook County.  Many manufacturers find the Calumet region attractive because of its location at the center of the U.S. and its intermodal transportation infrastructure.  Member organizations of CGMP include the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation, OAI, and  Prairie State, South Suburban and Richard J. Daley Colleges.  

“Ensuring that the region boasts a strong labor force with the skills needed by today’s manufacturers will help keep existing employers in the region and attract new and relocating companies,” said Reggie Greenwood, Director of Economic Development for the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association and the Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation. 

“CGMP has partnered with regional employers in an effort to discover their training needs, and the response has been quite enthusiastic because they’re growing and need skilled people right now,” Greenwood added.  A few of the companies actively engaged in the project include auto part maker Kay Manufacturing in Calumet City, crane manufacturer Whiting Corporation in Monee, railroad equipment producer Mi-Jack Products in Hazel Crest, actuation technology producer Bimba Manufacturing in University Park, National Railway Equipment in Dixmoor and Walco Tool in Lockport.

OAI, Inc., a local non-profit training and business service organization, is responsible for recruiting students for the CGMP’s Manufacturing Skills Job Training Program. To request a presentation about this program in your community, to apply for training or to recruit skilled employees for your company, please contact OAI Chicago Southland Director Mollie Dowling at 708-339-8173 or [email protected], or Reggie Greenwood at 708-922-4571 or [email protected]. For more information about the CGMP, please visit www.csedc.info and click “Calumet Green Manufacturing Partnership.”