Back-to-school season is in full swing, and among those back in session is the Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program sponsored by a group of local manufacturers taking action to address a critical shortage of workers. Delivered through Jefferson Community and Technical College, the two-year, work-and-learn program began its second year with 40 students on Aug. 16, doubling in size from the previous year. The program is offered through the Greater Louisville Chapter of the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (GL KYFAME).

The AMT program is designed to fill the pipeline of mid-skill manufacturing workers, which is critical to area manufacturers who are unable to find enough skilled workers to fill their open jobs. Members of GL KYFAME, a partnership of regional manufacturers with the common goal of creating a pipeline of skilled workers, sponsor students for the program by providing them with paid employment and on-the-job training and mentoring for three days a week. Students spend the other two days a week in class at JCTC. GL KYFAME’s first cohort, launched in August 2015, had 10 students. Cohort two is now a total of 28 students.

AMT PREPARES STUDENTS FOR PROMISING CAREERS
At the end of the five-semester program, each student will graduate with a certification as an Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT), an associate’s degree in Applied Science in Industrial Maintenance Technology and two years’ work experience. Because students are paid employees, they have the ability to graduate with little to no educational debt. After they graduate, students can continue their education or may have the opportunity to begin full-time employment with a sponsoring employer.

STUDENTS LEARN MORE THAN MANUFACTURING
Another unique aspect of the program is its attention to both manufacturing knowledge and workplace behavior. During lessons in professional competencies, students are taught how to adhere to industry standards concerning how to present themselves and behave within a professional environment. “Employers see these competencies as critical to a person being able to succeed in the workplace,” said JCTC FAME Instructor Gerald Sexton.

AMT HELPS BRIDGE THE MANUFACTURING SKILLS GAP
The apprentice-style nature of the AMT program proves to be mutually beneficial for students and manufacturers.
Kent Suiters, President of GL KY FAME and GE Appliances’ Manufacturing ERP & Initiatives Leader, said the program is a way for GE Appliances to prepare for the future. “Sponsoring companies have the opportunity to invest in the next generation of advanced manufacturers by providing them with specific, on-the-job training that sponsoring companies need to remain globally competitive. At GE Appliances, we are using the AMT program to develop a supply of well-trained employees to fill our future needs.”
Robbie Heinrich, Engineering Manager at Dana Driveshaft Manufacturing, LLC, said the program is already having an impact on his company. “Sponsoring the AMT program directly impacts Dana’s ability to evolve our workforce needs with the improvements in technology surrounding manufacturing. We’re already seeing a positive impact on our workplace by adding our two FAME students with less than two weeks on the job!”

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WHAT AMT STUDENTS ARE SAYING

“The program is very career-driven. It’s setting you up for your whole life basically.”
Dheaven Hoke
Sponsor company: Universal Woods
Graduate of Jeffersonville High school

“I’ve always been interested in seeing how machinery works, so I saw the program as a good opportunity for me to learn more about that and get some work experience at the same time. And to be paid on top of it all is great.”
Brian Mattingly
Sponsor company: GE Appliances
Graduate of Saint Xavier High School

“The fact that there’s a group of top manufacturers in the area that are helping guide this program gives us a foot in the door over most people. In terms of job security, it promises tons of potential.”
Evan James
Sponsor company: Universal Woods
Graduate of New Washington High School

“With our professional competencies that we’re learning, we all have better attitudes and dress cleaner at work. It’s kind of changing my life and making me look at things through a different lens.”
Aliza Schmitter
Sponsor company: GE Appliances
Graduate of Jeffersonville High School

MANUFACTURERS ARE INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
There are currently 15 local manufacturers serving as sponsors for the program, including large companies such as Ford Motor Company and GE Appliances (see complete list of sponsors below). Debbie Anderson, GL KYFAME’s Manufacturing Career Pathway Accelerator, said the number of companies sponsoring students has more than doubled since the first year of the program.

“Area manufacturers are seeing the value of the AMT and investing in it. They drive every aspect of the program from recruiting students to developing course requirements,” said Anderson.

GL KYFAME is currently recruiting for the Fall 2017 AMT class. They’re looking for recent high school graduates and those interested in pursuing a career in advanced manufacturing. Recruitment counties and areas include Jefferson County, Bullitt County, Oldham County, Spencer County and Southern Indiana. For more information, visit www.kyfameGL.com.

Sponsors of the AMT program include: Atlas Machine and Supply, Bigelow Tea, Cardinal Aluminum, Clariant Corporation, Dana Driveshaft Manufacturing, LLC, DDW, Ford Motor Company, GE Appliances, Lantech, Linak, nth/Works, Paradise Tomato Kitchen, Republic Conduit, Sabert and Universal Woods.

© 2016 Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education