By Tyler Roebuck
WHITLEY COUNTY — Are you looking to improve your skills? Thinking about attaining a certification to help you be the best at your job that you can be, but worried about the cost? Then the Whitley County Economic Development Corp. has a program for you.
After receiving a state grant to develop the workforce in the county, the EDC partnered with Ivy Tech Community College and the Noble County EDC to offer free scholarships for any and all residents of either county to pursue and achieve technical certifications in CNC, welding and industrial maintenance.
Riley Hollenbaugh, director of workforce and community development for the EDC, sees these scholarships as a “no-brainer.”
“The scholarship pays for the tuition and books, the only thing [recipients] have to do is show up for the course and if you complete the course, you get the certificate,” he said.
Individuals can apply to receive a scholarship, but companies may also appoint employees whose skills they want to sharpen.
Robert Bufkin, an employee at 80/20, said the program was beneficial.
“The CNC level 1 class was very educational and taught me many of the things I use every day in my CNC position. The class had a very calm and relaxed environment with the amount of students they have per teacher you get a nice one-on-one experience,” he said.
The instructor for the course also went out of his way to be inclusive.
“Our teacher, Brian Murray, did a very good job at both teaching the class and making us feel welcomed,” Bufkin said.
These scholarships also provide a benefit to the county economy.
“It’s going to fill the skills gap issue that we have going on right now,” Hollenbaugh said. “One thing is that we have a lot of companies right now that have jobs available but not enough qualified people to take those jobs. What we’re doing with these training courses with Ivy Tech is to figure out what skills are needed to fill these jobs and get those people that are ready to get into the workforce trained so they can be there. What we’re trying to do right now is to make sure we’re filling local jobs with local people.”
Jacob Kyler, a welder Adaptive Feeders and Automated Solutions, sees the program helping his small business.
“With this knowledge I am gaining I will be able to expand our machining department in our family owned businesses and continue to help the company grow,” he said.
Hollenbaugh encourages residents to consider the program now, while the jobs are readily available.
“The reality is that in five years these jobs might not be available,” he said.
“Right now, there are a lot of jobs, but when the market gets more competitive you can be the person that has a CNC or welding certificate from Ivy Tech, and that can help the individual continue to adapt in a marketplace that’s always changing. These skills are not only helping them now, but it’s going to help them in the future.”
Persons interested in applying or looking for information can call Hollenbaugh at 244-5506, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.