Owens works with employers to train tomorrow’s work forceWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A work force and community development program at Owens Community College is helping hundreds of local companies train thousands of employees and students to fill the jobs of today and those of the future.
Owens’ Workforce and Community Services worked with 450 companies training more than 5,000 workers and students in the 2006-07 academic year. It has a goal of serving 500 companies and even more students in the current year, said Michael Bankey, vice president of Workforce and Community Services.
“Education is the key to developing a work force for today’s economy. We are dedicated to providing customer-driven work force development and job training focused on developing and enhancing professional skills to meet the needs of the community and employers,” Bankey said.
Owens offers credit and non-credit courses for students through two major programs and customized training for companies in Northwest Ohio.
“Owens offers instruction and training programs consistent with current and emerging educational and labor-market needs,” Bankey said.
The skilled trades technology program offers credit courses for students working toward an associate degree, apprenticeship or journeyman’s card in skilled trades. About 500 to 600 part-time students are taking courses in building maintenance, electrical, electronic, industrial mechanics, machining, plumbing and pipe fitting, or heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and refrigeration.
The skilled trades program is offered in response to expressed training needs from local businesses and industries. An advisory committee, comprised of business and industry leaders, has provided valuable input in the development of the program, Bankey said.
Work force development non-credit courses are available for workers in professional development, computer and technology, career track and other business-related topics.
As a spinoff of the skilled trades program, Owens also offers assessment and consulting services to companies, working closely with them to develop customized training programs for their employees on a contract basis.
“We help small businesses develop their work force to meet the changing needs of business in today’s market and prepare them for the future. This program provides training from one to 100 or more people in a variety of subjects,” Bankey said.
These customized training programs are held on site in classrooms and laboratories at the Owens Development and Training Center or off site at the companies’ facilities.
Owens developed customized training for the maintenance staff at Norplas, an automotive manufacturer in Northwood. The program was designed to meet the specific needs of the company, said Dave Siravo, director of Skilled Trades and Apprenticeship Training at Owens.
The training was conducted at Owens’ center located near the Norplas plant. It offered morning and afternoon classes so half its maintenance staff could attend, while the other half remained on the job, Siravo said.
Norplas employs about 250 people at its local plant that produces complete bumper assembly units for major automakers. Norplas is a Magna Company, which is based in Canada but has numerous manufacturing operations in the United States.
The Bowling Green Community Development Foundation came to Owens to seek help in developing a supervisory training program for a consortium of five local manufacturing firms.
Owens developed the training program and will be training 25 employees from those five companies at the facilities of the Wood County Education Service Center in Bowling Green.
The five manufacturers benefiting from the supervisor training include Bio-Fit, a producer of ergonomic office equipment; Cooper Standard Automotive; Milligan, a job shop for larger companies; Phoenix Technologies plastic recycling plant and Rosenboom Machine & Tool.
The Toledo Metroparks recently came to Owens looking for a source to help train its grounds and maintenance staff. A program was developed to provide training in blueprint, electrical, heating, ventilating and air conditioning, small-engine repair, landscaping, insect control and turf management with courses offered each semester.
Owens and Toledo Metroparks have invited other area park systems to participate in the program, Siravo said.
Owens also provided a series of leadership classes for managers and supervisors at the Sauder Woodworking Co. in Archbold.
These training programs are partially funded by grants for work force development awarded to 53 colleges, including Owens, by the Ohio Board of Regents.
“There is no lack of clients for training programs. There are a lot of jobs in Northwest Ohio, but they require skill sets for emerging technology and good core skills,” Kelly Schulte of the Owens Work Force and Community Services staff said.
Owens hosts solar training
The Owens Center for Development and Training conducted Ohio’s only photovoltaic installation training program earlier this month, attracting 25 students.
The students received instruction in electricity and photovoltaic systems and theory. Course content included solar-system sizing and construction, codes and standards, battery and interconnection safety, maintenance and troubleshooting.
“Owens’ photovoltaic training program provides students with innovative and cutting-edge instruction within the emerging field of environmental technology,” Bankey said.
The hands-on course includes the design and installation of a photovoltaic grid system and continuing maintenance on the existing system at the work force and community services facility. Each year, additional solar panels are added to the system that provides electrical power for the facility.
The solar program is affiliated with the Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association.
“Solar energy is a great alternative source to conventional power,” said John Witte, adjunct faculty member for the training program at Owens. “Renewable energy is the wave of the future and innovative academic curriculum such as the photovoltaic training program exposes students to the growing career field as photovoltaic installers.”
Witte is also a partner of Advanced Distributed Generation, a general contracting company in Toledo that specializes in the design and installation of photovoltaic systems.