Crown Equipment worker Michael Lensman cuts gears at New Bremen plant. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

Manufacturing group lands huge grant to expand apprentice programs in region

The Dayton Region Manufacturers Association, Sinclair Community College and Clark State Community College have landed $500,000 as part of a $12 million federal grant the Ohio Manufacturing Workforce Partnership received for training manufacturing workers.

The institutions announced the grant Wednesday morning at Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley offices in downtown Dayton.

“It was a big win for us, and we are really excited about it,” said Angelia Erbaugh, president of DRMA, the organization which pursued and won the region’s portion of the state grant.

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Manufacturers have been encouraged to form industry-sector partnerships to focus on developing future workers, long a priority for DRMA, which is one of just two regional manufacturing trade associations in Ohio.

It’s the first federal grant the DRMA has won, Erbaugh said. The association submitted a grant proposal to the U.S. Department of Labor last fall and just received word that it will receive $500,000 over the four-year period of the grant.

“We all worked together to submit one grant,” Erbaugh said.

Dr. Tony Ponder, Sinclair’s dean of science, mathematics and and engineering, said the grant added impetus to an already planned investment of at least $250,000 for training technology and the hiring of four more staff members.

“Through this collaboration, the future of manufacturing in the Dayton area is much brighter,” Ponder said. 

The upshot is that DRMA will work with Sinclair and Clark State to expand apprenticeship programs in the Dayton and Springfield regions.

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The idea is to expand apprenticeship programs to train workers to industry-recognized standards. The goal is to produce 365 certified graduates whom manufacturers can be confident in hiring.

“It’s kind of a new model, a newer model for apprentice programs,” Erbaugh said. “The whole point of the grant is to get more schools to incorporate industry-recognized credentials into their curriculum.”

The hope as well is that training more students to industry standards will lead to more hiring.

“People will see more people enrolled in these programs earning industry-recognized credentials and ready to go to work,” Erbaugh said. “It provides almost a standard across different schools.”

The standards have been devised by industry, not by educators, she said.

“What that tells the employer … is that these are the skill standards for this particular occupation,” she said. The areas of focus include manufacturing production, welding, machining and industrial maintenance.

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This represents DRMA’s first foray into what Erbaugh calls the “grants business.” She expects to pursue further grants, but she cautioned that she doesn’t want her association to become a “grants-chaser.”

“We’re going to stay true to our mission,” she said. “But if we can find a grant that aligns with our mission, that’s what we’re going to go after.”

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