Columbus-based Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) on Monday opened the powertrain maker’s first Technical Education for Communities location in Indiana. The global program targets technical skills gaps through local vocational educational training. Cummins established the program at Arsenal Technical High School on the near east side of Indianapolis.
In an interview with Inside Indiana Business, Cummins’ Vice President of Community Relations and Corporate Responsibility Mary Chandler explained the driving force behind the initiative.
“We were seeing huge skills gaps in our community,” said Chandler. “At the same time, employers had open positions for good paying jobs that required technical skill sets. So, the impetus for Cummins Tech was to fill that skills gap, and especially provide opportunity for less advantaged young people.”
The new TEC program in Indy is one of only five in the U.S. and more than two dozen worldwide. Cummins establishes programs in locations around the world where it has existing facilities and sees a talent shortage in the workforce.
“We start this off by looking at the local community needs and the market analysis for what jobs are available, and what the jobs outlook looks like,” said Jason Irvin, director of Technical Education for Communities program. “So, in doing so we look at the number of jobs posted and who’s posting them. And that’s where a large majority of our partner base comes from.”
In Indianapolis, the need is for trained diesel mechanics. The program at Arsenal Tech will focus on providing training for future diesel engine service technicians. Other locations might emphasize other industries where there is a workforce need.
Cummins says the international program helps disadvantaged youth around the world secure good jobs through school-based, industry-supported skills training.
Cummins is partnering with Indy-based Allison Transmission Inc. (NYSE: ALSN) and IndyGo, the city’s public transit operator, to launch TEC.
“Partners can contribute in a variety of ways. They can provide monetary donations, equipment donations, they can come in and help skill up the teachers,” explained Chandler. “But really, probably the most critical opportunity provided by partners is jobs, both starting with internships and allowing young students to come into their operations and learn what that employer needs and then ultimately, to provide those students who graduate with good paying jobs.”
Irvin says the program focuses on hands-on learning. Seven Cummins diesel engines are allocated to the Indy program.
“Each will have a process systematic approach to taking apart, understanding each component of the engine, [and] reassembling,” said Irvin. “We also have virtual 3D models that students can use to do the same thing before they ever pick up a hand tool. So, we’re really focused on the foundation machine learning.
The program is geared primarily for juniors and seniors at Arsenal Tech.
The first cohort will begin during the fall 2023 semester. Once the students successfully complete the program, they will receive a Cummins certificate to highlight the skills learned and put them on a path for employment.