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IMT Apprenticeship Program Highlighted in National Magazine

IMT PhotoOlney Central College’s Industrial Maintenance Technology Program recently received national exposure as its apprenticeship program was highlighted in an industry-wide publication.

An article in the July/August edition of Lift and Access explores the need and challenges of developing skilled labor for the industry served by the aerial and access equipment market. Among those quoted is Kevin Lewton, general manager for RWCI Equipment Sales in Flora. In the article, Lewton touts the benefits of partnering with the IMT Program to provide training for company technicians.

“It is good to have a little light shined on what we are doing,” said IMT Instructor Logan Marshall. “We are trying to build up the local workforce and by that help local employers. We started working with RWCI to develop an apprenticeship for their technicians and it has grown to encompass employers in the surrounding counties.”

OCC launched its Mechatronics Technician Apprenticeship in January. The program is designed to help fill the skills gap for new technicians through a combination of classroom and on-the-job learning. Participants are hired by and work for partner companies while attending classes at OCC.

“We were the first community college in Southern Illinois to have a Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship,” Marshall added.

The program currently includes Hella Electronics Corporation in Flora and Fair-Rite Products Corporation in Flat Rock. Marshall anticipates adding more companies in the future.

“We are in the process of redesigning how the classes meet in the spring to incorporate more employers and all shifts so this great opportunity is available to everyone,” he said. “Scheduling has been one of the biggest hurdles in getting students in the program. This spring we will offer an open lab concept where participants can schedule a time to come in. We had several businesses interested in the program, but they couldn’t commit because of scheduling conflicts. This will better meet the needs of the workers and employers.”

As of October, six students will be enrolled in the apprenticeship, which enables employees to “earn and learn” while pursuing an Industrial Maintenance Technology Degree.

“There is a huge skills gap everywhere,” Marshall said. “In Illinois, it is particularly hard to find talented technicians and keep them here. Businesses need technicians with expertise and it has been difficult to find them. The apprenticeship provides a way to invest in employees while building up the company. It is good for both the employee and the employer.”

The full article is available at http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/e4778f6a#/e4778f6a/17.

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