By Aaron Mudd BG Daily News
When it comes to skilled workers, regional manufacturers are finding themselves short-handed.
"The number of people in the skilled trades are retiring at a much faster rate than there are people to replace them," said Eric Procter, a maintenance information manager with the Sun Products Corp.
In response, Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College is gearing up a campaign to create a pipeline of potential employees. Procter represents one of 16 regional industry partners across 10 counties working through the Southcentral Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education.
"The end goal is a multi-skilled maintenance technician and a successful career," said Kelcie Richart, the program's success coach.
Richart spent part of her day Wednesday helping students set up online program tools during an all-day orientation at SKYCTC's Franklin-Simpson Center.
Richart said the program's inaugural cohort includes 23 students from all over southcentral Kentucky. Students need high scores in science, technology, engineering and math fields to qualify for the program. Once selected, they'll go to class twice a week and work for one of the company partners three times a week over five semesters. Ultimately, the company can decide to offer full-time employment when the student completes the program.
Brian Hymer of Warren County attended the orientation hoping to get a new professional start.
Hymer said the program will be great because he can get work experience at the same time.
Hymer wants to pursue a bachelor's degree after finishing the program and work toward becoming a mechanical engineer. Graduates earn an associate degree in advanced manufacturing technology.
Kenneth Faircloth, a 30-year-old father of two kids, wants to advance at his current job at Logan Aluminum.
"I think the opportunity to study and work on the floor in tandem will be beneficial," he said of the program. "We can apply what we learn as we learn it."
Faircloth and the other students will start that when classes begin Tuesday.