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Wanda Thomas Named Kent State's New Associate Provost

Dr. Wanda Thomas, who has served in the dual role of dean of the Regional College and dean of Kent State University at Trumbull since July of this year, will expand her role with Kent State's Regional Campus system. As of Nov. 1, Thomas will serve as the university's Regional College dean and associate provost for Kent State system integration.

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Workforce Development and Continuing Studies Center at Trumbull Lands Federal Manufacturing Grant

Posted Nov. 1, 2010

The Workforce Development and Continuing Studies Center at Kent State University at Trumbull has been named the recipient of a $212,250 federal grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for the purpose of expanding advanced manufacturing training in the region.

regional feature auto plant inside

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state and local government. Established by an act of Congress in 1965, ARC is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair, who is appointed by the president. Local participation is provided through multicounty local development districts.

Each year ARC provides funding for several hundred projects in the Appalachian Region, in areas such as business development, education and job training, telecommunications, infrastructure, community development, housing and transportation.

The grant will build on the success of a two-year project in the area of accessible industrial maintenance training which was developed and implemented by the Workforce Development and Continuing Studies Center.

That program, the result of a $238,754 Department of Labor earmark grant from January 2009, completed a comprehensive job profile and job task analysis for two high-demand occupations: maintenance technician mechanical and maintenance technician electrical.

After analyzing these occupations, pre-training assessments were designed to provide experienced workers with credit for prior knowledge. Individualized training plans were then prepared and students completed a series of online training modules.

Kent State Trumbull worked in partnership with local One Stops to maximize funding and served more than 60 incumbent and dislocated workers in this training program, including maintenance technicians from V & M Star.

As of Oct. 1, 18 workers have completed training, while 16 incumbent workers earned a wage increase, and 12 dislocated workers were placed in jobs.

"I am now employed," says participant Ted Conway, "but the convenience of online courses enabled me to continue in the program."

"This training placed my feet on a path of great opportunities," adds participant Tyrone Reed. "I am now positioned to move into vast arenas within the industrial production environment. Previously I was employed as a test engineer at Delphi, but was laid off due to the economic downturn. But through this program I am now re-tooling for the future."

Due to the high level of demand for this program, as evidenced by the more than 40 regional manufacturing companies with a confirmed need to hire skilled maintenance technicians, and to build on lessons learned, the ARC grant will assist in the establishment of a Manufacturing Skills Standards Council (MSSC) Center, establish a mobile computer lab to serve individuals and businesses alike and will aid in the training of an additional 125 individuals, made up of both incumbent and dislocated workers.

In addition to the online maintenance training, the center will offer hands-on training and industry recognized credentials to participants. This will include MSSC credentials, OSHA certification and AWS (welding) certification.

The MSSC program has been endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers and will provide pathways into a variety of manufacturing-related positions. Training, assessments and credentials will be provided in four areas: manufacturing processes and production, quality practices and measurement, safety and maintenance awareness.

"We are excited to have the opportunity to expand this program and continue to meet the needs of the region," says Lisa Goetsch, director of Workforce Development and grant project director. "The demand for skilled industrial maintenance technicians continues to grow, and will be a critical need in the next few years due to significant numbers of pending retirements. In addition, employers are seeking to upgrade the skills of their current workforce to adapt to new technologies and improve efficiency and effectiveness."

For additional information, contact Goetsch at 330-675-8830 or lgoetsch@kent.edu.

By Robb King