With the financial support of GE Appliances and Amatrol, Bullitt County Public Schools will open a state-of-the-art Industrial Maintenance Advanced Manufacturing Lab at an official unveiling Wednesday, April 27, at 10 a.m.
With a focus on developing manufacturing-related skills, the student lab is intended to help address a growing workforce crisis among manufacturers, many of whom cannot find enough skilled workers to fill jobs, especially entry- and mid-level positions.
In recent years the manufacturing sector has undergone huge changes. For example, a manufacturer or business owner can now contract work out to Toll Processors in order to get jobs completed in ways that simply were not possible in the past.
Consequently, the Greater Louisville area is experiencing a resurgence in manufacturing sector jobs after decades of decline. Considering technology is constantly changing the future of work, this comes as no surprise. Today area manufacturing is an $11 billion industry, representing 17% of the region’s economic activity and 13% of regional employment, according to the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. However, too few programs prepare students for careers in manufacturing. GE Appliances and Amatrol have donated funds and equipment like modular aluminum framing valued at more than $123,000 to encourage development of manufacturing training programs for students of Bullitt County Public Schools.
The Industrial Maintenance Advanced Manufacturing Lab at the Bullitt County Area Technology Center will be used by students pursuing the Industrial Maintenance Technology (IMT) track—an innovative program that prepares them specifically for careers in manufacturing upon graduation or to pursue higher education in a manufacturing-related field.
“Providing students with the information and tools they need to prepare for a career in manufacturing is essential to solving the workforce crisis we’re experiencing,” said Chip Blankenship, President and CEO of GE Appliances. “Bullitt County Public Schools is a leader in this regard. We’re product to fund the district’s new Industrial Maintenance Advanced Manufacturing Lab to help build the pipeline even further.”
Paul Perkins, President of Amatrol, said the new training equipment and interactive multimedia curriculum will introduce students to exciting technologies commonly used in today’s manufacturing environments. “Our mission with this donation is to familiarize high school students with modern manufacturing careers and motivate them to make manufacturing a career choice.”
“The manufacturing sector is integral to the local and national economy. We need to provide students with the training they need to be viable in today’s workforce,” said Secretary Hal Heiner of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet. “These are great jobs, and there are countless opportunities for young people in today’s manufacturing environment.”
Bullitt County Public Schools have demonstrated a commitment to preparing students for manufacturing careers. Last fall, eight of the 19 students accepted into the inaugural class of the two-year, work-and-learn Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program were graduates of Bullitt County Schools. Led by the Greater Louisville Chapter of the Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KYFAME) and offered through Jefferson Community & Technical College, the AMT program provides students with on-the-job training, the opportunity to graduate with an Associate in Applied Science degree and the opportunity for full-time employment with a sponsor company—all with little or no education debt. Or, they can choose to continue their education and pursue a four-year degree. For the 2018 class, 23 students have been selected and eight are from Bullitt County.
“We are so appreciative to our Bullitt County FAME students for doing so well and helping us get the attention of GE Appliances and Amatrol,” said Christy Coulter-Rogers, Director of College & Career Readiness at Bullitt County Public Schools. “This donation has transformed the learning environment and will be the driving force in updating all Career Technical Education programs for the students of Bullitt County.”
Also during Wednesday’s unveiling ceremony, Blankenship will release The Community Playbook for Greater Louisville Manufacturing Workforce Development. In October 2015, representatives of area manufacturers, educational institutions, government agencies and other organizations gathered for a Greater Louisville Manufacturing Workforce Development Summit to address the shortage of qualified entry-level applicants. The group collaborated on a community-wide manufacturing workforce plan, which is outlined in the Playbook.
“This plan is a road map for effective workforce development,” Blankenship said. “Manufacturers are committed to reconstructing the talent pipeline and are taking the lead to make that happen. But, we need involvement from across the community. The Playbook illustrates how, with a unified, community-wide approach, we can combat the current workforce crisis and increase economic development fueled by a robust manufacturing sector.”
One of the goals of the Community Playbook is to align school curriculum with employer needs – which is the hallmark of the Bullitt County program.
“Our business community has expressed the need for Industrial Maintenance and Advanced Manufacturing for a number of years,” said Bullitt County Schools Superintendent Keith Davis. “This incredible gift from GE Appliances and Amatrol is just what our programs need to attract capable students and help us be part of the solution, both for our students and our community.”
Amatrol is the world’s leader in skills-based, interactive technical learning. The company’s comprehensive learning solutions range from engaging high school students in the learning of basic science and math to teaching hands-on skills in the latest, highly sophisticated motor drives. The company’s interactivity, both in equipment and computer-based learning solutions, integrated with strong alignment to industry needs is what makes Amatrol the industry’s leading technical education provider. For more information about Amatrol, visit www.amatrol.com.
About GE Appliances
GE Appliances is at the forefront of building innovative, energy-efficient appliances that improve people’s lives. GE Appliances’ products include refrigerators, freezers, cooking products, dishwashers, washers, dryers, air conditioners, water filtration systems and water heaters. General Electric (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter to build a world that works better. For more information on GE Appliances, visit www.ge.com/appliances.
About Bullitt County Public Schools
Bullitt County Public Schools has over 13,200 students in grades preschool through 12. There are 25 school facilities, a certified staff of over 900 and a classified staff of over 800 working to make the district the leader in educational excellence.