Computer technology, health care, construction and high-skill manufacturing account for nearly 54 percent of the American labor market, according to the National Skills Coalition. Unfortunately, only 44 percent of workers are sufficiently trained for those high-demand jobs.
East Central College (ECC) is trying to buck that trend.

Computer technology, health care, construction and high-skill manufacturing account for nearly 54 percent of the American labor market, according to the National Skills Coalition. Unfortunately, only 44 percent of workers are sufficiently trained for those high-demand jobs.

East Central College (ECC) is trying to buck that trend. Thanks to an $87,000 grant from the Missouri Division of Workforce Development, the college will soon build an apprenticeship program.

“We know employers in the area are faced with a skills gap,” said Mardy Leathers, Workforce Development executive director. “We want to provide both the academic education needed for the workforce and the hands-on skills to land a job in their companies.”

Statewide, there are nearly 6,500 manufacturing facilities that need highly skilled workers.

“Franklin County has more than four times the manufacturing establishments than any other county in our service region,” said Jeremy Goss, Workforce Development coordinator of business development and training. “They make up near 25 percent of all jobs in the area, higher than any other category.”

In partnership with local industry, two registered apprenticeship programs will be offered by East Central: precision machinist and industrial maintenance technician.

“These are two or three-year programs,” said Leathers. “Students enrolled in the program will get 4,000 – 6,000 structured on-the-job training hours, 33 college credit hours, industry recognized credentials and pay increases based on academic progress. All of this results in a Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Certificate along with industry certifications and academic credit – each poised to create a dynamic and high performing employee in the advanced manufacturing sector.”

Individuals who enroll in the program will have a 40 hour work week with one of the partnering companies, alongside time dedicated to studying in the classroom. According to Mardy Leathers, the program has a solid curriculum based design, structured around the job training. Leathers called it a “hybrid program,” and will feature some of ECC’s industrial courses such as Industrial Maintenance and Welding alongside on-the-job training.

The tuition for the program will be offset by the grant money, and the final cost will be determined by the program’s start date on June 1, the beginning of ECC’s Summer term. Maddy Leather’s encourages anyone interested, businesses or employees, to reach out and discuss participation in the program.

“If you’re currently not employed, reach out us,” said Mardy. “Even you are employed, still reach out to us.” The program is able to be customized around the different partner companies and their employees so they can fit in a full work schedule while attending class.

 The nearest partnering companies for Phelps County residents will be Aerofill in Sullivan, and TFW in Fort Leonard wood. Both companies’ programs will have a focus on industrial maintenance. Participants will be given a starting rate of pay along with incentives for keeping high grades in the classroom. Both the Sullivan and Fort Leonard Wood programs consist of 30 credit hours, and despite the classroom component, residents should think of the program as applying for a job, rather than signing up for classes at the college.

“This is an investment not only for the businesses, but the employees,” said Jay Scherder, director of ECC’s public relations. “The employee is getting is getting more education…and the employer is getting a more highly trained work force.”

Businesses or students interested in the program should email training@eastcentral.edu or cal 636-239-0598 for more information on applying to work with the partnering businesses. Both current employees of the companies as well those just entering the work force are welcome.