It started with some manufacturers talking to people at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) about how desperately they need people who know how to maintain, diagnose and repair automated equipment.
“All employers are seeking industrial mechanics for their maintenance operations,” said program director Tim Tewalt. “Manufacturers like Golden Plump, Nestle, Bush Beans and 3M have continued to hire CVTC graduates and the list of companies looking for their next industrial maintenance technicians continues.”
In 2016, CVTC announced it would be taking the lead in a $5 million Department of Labor TechHire grant to be shared with other technical colleges to prepare people for high-growth jobs. CVTC’s $1.7 million local share is being spent over four years to enhance the Industrial Mechanic program under an IMPACT grant that is part of the TechHire grant program.
Ray Hardy, 23, wanted to move into a mechanic’s position at AMPI, but needed either experience or training. “But the maintenance manager was agreeable to me working part time while going to school. I mainly shadow people in maintenance for now.”
For Hardy, it’s a much-needed improvement. “I used to stack 50-pound bags eight hours straight,” he said. “Maintenance is a lot more interesting.”