The Knox Tech Center will introduce a service technician program in September after a long-standing need for service technicians in the Mount Vernon area.
The new program lasts 640 hours (approximately 10 months) and runs from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. It is designed to prepare learners for entry-level industrial and facility maintenance positions.
“There is a big push in the local manufacturing sector here in Mount Vernon,” said Terry Windsor, instructor for the maintenance technician program. “They have a hard time finding people who are trained in maintenance and know how to get in and work on their machinery or electrical systems and maintain the facility.”
The Maintenance Managers Advisory Committee shared that there has been a struggle to find people to work with and maintain their various industrial manufacturing equipment. For the past year and a half, Windsor has seen this fight up close.
“One of the things we’re targeting is entry-level maintenance technicians who will be able to apply and get into some of the local businesses here that are suffering,” Windsor said. “Companies are looking for people who understand and know the maintenance aspect. Then, they will learn their specificities for whatever professional function in which the student engages.
Hands-on training in a skills lab will allow students to gain experience in basic mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, electrical and process control systems, as well as in maintenance welding and piping.
Stephanie Burson, Strategic Industrial Manager for Vermac Industries, looks forward to seeing how the new program helps accelerate the onboarding process. Currently there are five service technicians at Vermac and it takes up to two years to get fully trained.
“Our maintenance technicians are the backbone of our facility,” said Burson. “They’re the ones who fix the equipment when it breaks down, they step in and help the employees troubleshoot their equipment when they are in trouble… They keep the ship running.
Burson and his team at Vermac Industries see the new program as a good opportunity to upgrade the skills of the current workforce who could potentially be interested in maintenance positions in the future. For Vermac Industries, this will significantly reduce the duration of the training phase if they hire a maintenance technician with basic knowledge.
Upon graduation from the program, students will have all the tools and knowledge they need to become certified. They will receive their National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) certification (s) for basic maintenance operations and basic mechanical systems.
“The program has been approved by the Knox County Career Center Board of Education, the Ohio Department of Higher Education, the US Department of Education-Title IV and our accreditation body, the Council on Occupational Education. September just has to get here, ”Windsor said.
The Maintenance Technician program will run from September 1 to June 9, 2022. Interested persons must be over the age of 18, have a high school or GED transcript, and pass the WorkKeys skills assessment. To register, go online.