A workforce training bootcamp will accept its first 12 students as early as May, the Kosciusko County Economic Redevelopment Commission heard Thursday.
George Robertson, president of the Kosciusko Economic Development Corp., said the 12-week certification program – Kosciusko Kickstart Your Career – will begin in mid-May or June. Modeled after a Lafayette program and developed with input from 16 area manufacturers, Kickstart will be administered by WorkOne and Ivy Tech Community College.
He said the aim of the program is to create “trainable” and “promotable” entry-level employees who possess basic skills and are capable of starting a job or going on to further specialty certification.
“It’s not the employer’s job to teach math, to teach reading, to teach work ethic or why safety’s important. We agree with that,” Robertson said. “They tell us, ‘If somebody gets through this course, they’re the kind of people we’ll hire, or move to the top of the list, or pay $1 more.’”
He told the Kosciusko County Council later Thursday that Kickstart’s ideal candidates are young people who are just out of high school or began but didn’t finish college, who don’t have many skills, are working one or two jobs to make ends meet and still living at home with their parents.
“They don’t feel they have a future. We want to provide them an opportunity,” he said. “So when Biomet announces a $35-an-hour job, we have people ready for them. Our goal is that our employers always have good applicants walking through the doors.”
The curriculum plan he shared with the Redevelopment Commission covers topics such as safety, communication skills, blueprint reading, inspections and measurements. He said it was developed with input from companies including Paragon, Symmetry, Creighton Brothers and CTB.
The program also teaches basic work skills through its demands, such as requiring students to pass a drug test and to show up on time, dropping anyone with too many absences. WorkOne also provides life skills such as how to dress for work and how to request sick time rather than just walking off the job.
Students who complete the course will also have nine Ivy Tech credit hours, he said. The cost is $2,300 to $2,500, which he said could be offset by scholarships, contributions from Tax Increment Finance districts and reimbursement from employers who benefit from the program.
Redevelopment Commission member Max Courtney said he was encouraged by the program, calling it fertile ground and a good beginning.
“We’re on the cutting edge. There are counties our size and smaller who don’t have the initiative to have this,” he said.