Five strategically located training facilities could make a significant dent in the U.S. shortage of skilled manufacturing labor, says Jerry Knight, the executive director of the Precision Manufacturing Institute (www.pmionline.edu).
The Precision Manufacturing Institute recently opened its new expanded facility in Meadville, Pa., and the opening attracted representatives from other U.S. states that are considering opening similar facilities. Knight said the interest shown in the facility by other states could be the kernel that would help to reduce the shortage of skilled labor in manufacturing.
The Institute is a post-secondary, nationally accredited technical-training institute that offers instruction in metalworking, industrial maintenance, heating and air conditioning, electronics, welding and many more industrial areas. It is associated with Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, and its students are certified in their chosen fields and also graduate with as much as 26 hours of credit toward an associate college degree.
Knight has set his sights on starting similar training facilities in the Great Lakes region to combat the loss of automotive jobs in those areas. He says states such as Ohio and Michigan are eager to initiate programs. Funding for PMI-type programs can come from state and federal grants, workforce development grants, private donations and companies paying for employee training.
Students who pursue a career in manufacturing at PMI can choose from 28 diploma and certified programs. In addition, the school works with manufacturing organizations to provide them with customized training programs for their employees using the institute's state-of-the-industry equipment and software. In some instances, PMI will even conduct on-site training for manufacturers.
Training at PMI is a full-time job. Students attend 12-week programs, 8 hours a day, every day. When they graduate from the facility they carry a full toolbox, are National Institute of Metalworking Society (NIMS) certified and sport skills above those of an entry-level employee. The institute has a 98-percent placement rate for its graduates.
PMI instructors come from industry and teach students in 10 classrooms in the 32,000-square-foot facility. The Institute has a large shop floor equipped with software, machine tools and other manufacturing equipment either donated or on loan. The equipment includes everything from single-spindle manual machines to multitasking systems, welders and electrical discharge machines (EDMs).