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Illinois Valley Community College officials are trying to determine why there are so many open seats available in the Certified Production Technician Program, and area employers are hoping more students complete the program to fill available job openings. Students Paul Hancock of Ohio, Camry Sarver of La Salle and Matt Dresbach of La Salle take a quiz in Paul Smith’s maintenance awareness class.
Need a job? The answer is “yes” if you’re one out of about every 10 work-able residents in the Illinois Valley.
But the local unemployed and underemployed may not want to get the certification needed for high-wage employment.
That’s one theory behind the poor enrollment of Illinois Valley Community College’s Certified Production Technician certificate program that all but guarantees high-wage employment in the manufacturing sector upon completion.
“I don’t know if people are hungry for jobs,” said IVCC associate vice president of academic affairs Sue Isermann. “It’s not that the jobs aren’t out there. We’re talking to employers who need workers. Maybe it’s the local unemployed and underemployed who don’t want to take the challenge.”
Three out of five students completed the certificate program last fall with one more nearly completed. But this semester, only four are enrolled full time and one is part time.
IVCC administrators are now searching for answers given the program’s unexpectedly low enrollment and Illinois Valley’s high unemployment rate.
“It’s a head-scratcher for us,” Isermann said. “I don’t know what the answer is. Every school doing similar programs are struggling to get students to enroll. Maybe it’s the poor perception of manufacturing jobs.
“We do know that this is a program that we’re not going to let die because we know that local employers need people with this training right now,” she said.
Eleven Illinois Valley-based manufacturers have backed the program by pledging interest in hiring students who earn the certificate. Some have even asked the college to enroll more because they have demand for filling these high-paying positions.
Those manufacturers include American Nickeloid, Maze Nails, Eakas and James Hardie of Peru, Carus Corp. of La Salle, Hart Electric of Lostant, HCC of Mendota, MBL (USA) of Ottawa and Transco, Plymouth Tube and Vactor Manufacturing of Streator.
The certificate course prepares students for high-performance, technologically advanced production jobs. It also serves a need for employers who want to give additional training to its existing workforce.
IVCC business training center coordinator Jennifer Scheri said the program has a “fast track” option for people with five or more years of experience in the field to take the course. Scheri said employers have enrolled two students into the “fast track” option.
“We’re trying to figure out how best to meet the needs of the people out there who need jobs,” she said. “But it does make you ask: ‘Where are all of the unemployed people out there.’”
Posted: Saturday, February 8, 2014
Article comment by:
Is this really the message IVCC wants to be remembered for? Calling 12% of our family, friends and neighbors too lazy to step-up and get a job? I'm sure that now that the unemployed are properly chastised by someone who has job security and is pointing the finger everywhere but at themselves, the manufacturing program enrollment will surely soar. What an unfortunate and Ill-advised article.
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