Manufacturing training program targeting people with disabilities
A not-for-profit in Marion is partnering with Conexus Indiana to provide training to prepare people with disabilities for careers in advanced manufacturing. Carey Services plans to implement the Catapult Indiana program, a 160-hour program designed to help people develop the skills needed to gain an entry-level position with an advanced manufacturing company.
Conexus, the advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, says the effort with Carey Services is the first time the Catapult Indiana program has specifically focused on people with disabilities, which have an estimated 80% unemployment rate.
Carey Services CEO Jim Allbaugh told Inside INdiana Business the partnership with Conexus came at the perfect time as the organization was developing new career-training programming.
“Carey Services is getting ready to open up in June our eMPower Academy, which has different learning labs for a lot of different career paths. One of those career paths is a pre manufacturing Learning Lab,” Allbaugh said. “As we sought out partners for how we might be able to best implement that particular learning lab, Catapult Indiana was the perfect partner for us to look at with the different tools and the resources that Catapult Indiana has.”
The academy will be housed inside Carey’s Marion campus, which is currently undergoing a $2 million renovation that is expected to be complete next month.
Allbaugh said the organization will bring all of the tools, equipment, resources and curriculum from the Catapult program in-house to begin training people with disabilities this summer.
Bob McQuern, director of adult education at Conexus, said it’s an honor to bring the Catapult program to people with disabilities for the first time, and he hopes it can serve as a model for other not-for-profits.
“It is a tremendous opportunity for us because with the 80% unemployment rate with folks with disabilities within the state of Indiana, there are many, many other organizations like Carey Services that we hope to be able to help in the future, so that we can help those folks be able to get a job and be successful within their own communities,” McQuern said.
But Carey is also working with area manufacturers to find out what their needs are, which can be applied to the Catapult program, Allbaugh said. One of the main questions the organization received from companies is if there would be a need to modify their systems and practices for people with disabilities.
“It’s really exciting because it’s going to be more than just placing the Catapult Indiana resources in our pre-manufacturing lab,” he said. “It’s going to be about looking at, studying, and researching potential modifications for different kinds of disabilities that allows, then, for people with disabilities to be able to really excel and exceed and succeed in some new ways with the Catapult Indiana equipment.”
The effort is being supported by a $64,000 gift from the Don Wood Foundation in Fort Wayne, which received a 1:1 match, bringing the total funding to $128,000.
“This skills-based training experience will be able to help those people previously unserved have an opportunity to learn the skills necessary to have a rewarding career in manufacturing while at the same time helping organizations find quality employees,” Don Wood Foundation CEO Laura Macknick said in written remarks.
Allbaugh said the first cohort of the program will have between 8-12 students. He added the organization is also reaching out to other career and trades organizations to potentially expand the program beyond just those with disabilities.
Conexus Indiana says since its inception, the Catapult program has had a 70% graduation rate, 90% job placement rate for graduates, and resulted in an average pay of $18 per hour for graduates in full-time positions.