Inside Ivy Tech: ‘I’m happy when things break down’

Workforce Alignment training options promote career advancement for incumbent workers

Advanced manufacturing companies that experience frequent equipment failures would be wise to embrace an employee like Joe Decamp.

“I’m happy when things break down because I love doing maintenance,” Decamp says. “I enjoy troubleshooting and fixing equipment.”

From left, Joe Decamp and Bruce Slazyk were both sponsored by their respective employers, Ottenweller Inc. and Fort Wayne Pools, to participate in the Industrial Maintenance Training Program established by Ivy Tech Northeast’s Workforce Alignment. Their six-month training commitment will provide them with the skills necessary to become entry-level industrial maintenance technicians.

Decamp is a paint maintenance technician with Fort Wayne’s Ottenweller Inc., a nationally based fabrication source that specializes in producing large steel parts for companies such as Caterpillar and John Deere. His primary responsibilities focus on preventative maintenance, where he changes filters on equipment and keeps production machinery clean.

While content with his employer, Decamp says he desires career advancement and the opportunity to pursue large-scale equipment repairs, particularly those that involve complex electrical systems, but he lacks the skills to effectively perform such functions at the present.

There’s a solution to Decamp’s dilemma: Because Ottenweller Inc. is the type of employer that believes in Decamp, the company is making a financial investment to develop his talents through Ivy Tech Community College Northeast’s Workforce Alignment division.

“I was really nervous about going back to school because I haven’t been in the classroom in years, so returning felt like breaking a seal. But I now know I’ve made the right decision for my future.” ~ Joe Decamp, paint maintenance technician, Ottenweller Inc.

Decamp is enrolled in Workforce Alignment’s Industrial Maintenance Training Program, which takes incumbent workers from a variety of job areas and provides them with the skills necessary to become entry-level industrial maintenance technicians in the manufacturing industry.

Workforce Alignment industrial trainer Gary Hall says he tells participants the training they complete represents “a real door-opener” for their careers.

“I stress troubleshooting because that’s what factories need—people who can keep the machines running,” he says.

En route to honoring the six-month training commitment in industrial maintenance—which involves 200 hours of lecture and hands-on activities and an additional 200 hours of out-of-class assignments and online videos—Decamp and his peers learn about manufacturing processes, welding, motor controls, fluid power, robotics, electricity, and safety.

The participants even have the opportunity to earn the CPT, or certified production technician, credential—a nationally recognized certification that satisfies four of the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council’s education modules: maintenance, manufacturing, quality, and safety.

The Industrial Maintenance Training Program is one of several training initiatives offered by Workforce Alignment, either on the Ivy Tech Northeast campus or at a sponsored location in one of the College’s 10 service counties. Other common training options include CNC (computerized numerical control) machining fundamentals and gas metal arc welding.

Workforce Alignment consultant Scott Wilson meets with employers throughout northeast Indiana to learn about their organizational needs and identify funding sources for training, which often includes employer contributions as well as Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) federal grants and WorkOne’s Skill UP Indiana state grants.

The training contracts Wilson negotiates translate into longer-term, curriculum-based training, such as the Industrial Maintenance Training Program, or shorter-term, onsite training with a company through a private contract.

“To me, this degree of flexibility defines Workforce Alignment because we can provide all of the above options,” Wilson says.

Another benefit for Workforce Alignment’s students who earn certificates of completion through curriculum-based training is the ability to “cross-walk” their new competencies into college credit at Ivy Tech that can count toward a technology-focused associate degree or technical certificate.

“Workforce Alignment connects industry with the College based on the needs of an employer or employee,” says Kaylene Smith, lead program manager for Workforce Alignment. “Whether it’s workforce trainings with embedded certifications or academic educational opportunities for advancement, we work to help provide what’s needed to advance the northeast Indiana workforce. In many cases, short-term trainings expose individuals to an area of interest they want to pursue further on the academic side.”

Decamp is one training participant who is already anticipating his next steps.

“I definitely want to further my education,” he says. “I would like to keep moving up in maintenance responsibilities as far as possible and also keep my momentum going in the classroom once my daughters are back in school this fall.”

Connect with Workforce Alignment

Scott Wilson, workforce development consultant

Learn more about the Industrial Maintenance Training Program

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