500,000 gift from Fabricators & Manufacturers Association spurs partnership to address shortage of skilled workers
PALATINE, Ill., June 29, 2015 – The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA) has partnered with Harper College for the construction of a new $1.5 million facility designed to create critically needed skilled workers for area manufacturers and related businesses. The new 6,000 square foot FMA Metal Fabrication Lab, funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the FMA, will double the size of Harper’s current manufacturing lab.
An artist’s rendering shows the 6,000 square foot FMA Metal Fabrication Lab expected to open in the fall of 2015.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the FMA Metal Fabrication Lab is set for Monday, June 29 at Harper’s main campus in Palatine, Ill., a northwest suburb of Chicago. The lab is expected to open in the fall 2015.
A Hard Hat Celebration took place Monday, June 29 at the future site of the FMA Metal Fabrication Lab of Harper College in Palatine, Ill. Pictured left to right: Mary Beth Ottinger, dean of Career and Technical Programs, Harper College; Kathleen Gilmer, president, Harper College Educational Foundation Board of Directors; Greg Dowell, chair, Harper College Board of Trustees; Dr. Kenneth L. Ender, president, Harper College; Carlos Borjas, immediate past chair, FMA Board of Directors; Kurt Billsten, coordinator of Advanced Manufacturing, Harper College; Ed Youdell, president & CEO, FMA
The new facility will support Harper’s Advanced Manufacturing Program which trains students for high tech manufacturing careers in mechatronics/automation, precision machining, metal fabrication and supply chain management/logistics. The program offers industry-endorsed skills certificates and paid internships with 75 local manufacturers. The program was the recipient of a $13 million federal grant to expand its best practices statewide.
The expanded facility will train up to 600 students annually and will house state of the art equipment such as lasers, turrets, press brakes, and robotic welders. Some of the equipment will be donated by FMA members. According to research from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the U.S. faces a shortage of nearly 2 million manufacturing workers over the next decade.
“Two years ago the chairman of the FMA Board of Directors challenged us to develop a new way for the association to create a workforce solution for our industry that would have a positive impact for a large number of member companies,” said Ed Youdell, FMA president and CEO. “Establishing a stand-alone FMA University would have been cost prohibitive. Through discussions with Harper College, we found that partnering with an established program would be both cost-efficient and give us a speed-to-market advantage.”
The $500,000 FMA grant has a unique structure: $400,000 will be released over the next five years and will be contingent on enrollment benchmarks and $100,000 will go to manufacturing students who qualify for the Harper Promise Scholarship. The Promise Scholarship guarantees area students up to two free years of tuition if they get solid grades, have good attendance, don’t repeat classes and perform community service during all four years in high school.
“It’s a unique approach,” said Youdell. “The college has to grow the program in order to take full advantage of the grant and the timed disbursements will keep the association actively engaged in the process.”
“We appreciate our partnership with the FMA in helping us train workers for good paying and family sustaining jobs in manufacturing,” said Harper College President Dr. Ken Ender. “None of us can solve the shortage of skilled workers in isolation. By working together, we can ensure that our local manufacturers have the highly trained workforce they need to compete in a 21st century global economy.”
About Harper College
Harper College is one of the largest community colleges in Illinois with an annual headcount of over 35,000 students. The College’s main campus is located in Palatine, IL and serves 23 communities that make up the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Under Harper President Dr. Ken Ender, Harper has become a national leader in student success by increasing graduation, transfer and certificate completion rates, aligning the College’s curriculum with high schools, training students for new economy jobs and implementing new accountability and transparency standards. Since 2009, Harper has experienced record graduation rates and a dramatic increase in the number of students who come to Harper college-ready. The College has also formed new alliances with businesses and manufacturers to fill the shortage of skilled workers in key industries in the Chicago area.
Based in Rockford, Ill., FMA is a professional organization with more than 2,300 members working together to improve the metal fabricating and forming industry. Founded in 1970, FMA brings metal fabricators and fabricating equipment manufacturers together through technology councils, educational programs, networking events, and the FABTECH® trade show. The official publications of FMA include: The FABRICATOR®, TPJ – The Tube & Pipe Journal®, STAMPING Journal®, Practical Welding Today®, The Fabricator en Espanol, and Canadian Industrial Machinery. FMA serves members involved in the following processes: bending, blanking, cutting, drawing, extruding, fastening, finishing, leveling, piercing, punching, roll forming, shearing, slitting, spinning, straightening, stamping, swaging, and welding. FMA also has two technology affiliates, the Tube & Pipe Association, International (TPA), which focuses on the unique needs of companies engaged in tube and pipe producing and fabricating; and Sustainable Manufacturer Network, a professional organization of individual members dedicated to deploying sustainable manufacturing practices. Membership spans the United States, Canada and Mexico and reaches into more than 30 other countries. Visit www.fmanet.org for more information.
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Director of Marketing
Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, Intl. (FMA)