Workforce Development Committee launching internship program

By Kelsey Kimbler -

EATON — The Preble County Educational Service Center is working with the Preble County Development Partnership’s Workforce Development Committee and Preble County businesses to roll out a pilot internship program in early 2018.

The program will pair select Preble County seniors with manufacturers in the county to build job skills, earn school credit, and make valuable connections, effectively “bridging the gap” from high school to earning a living wage.

Shawn Hoff, Assistant to the ESC Superintendent, explained that the program came out of the popular Manufacturing Days, which brings all Preble County districts’s seniors into local manufacturing plants to see options for employment. According to Hoff, this program made it clear that Preble County had to have an internship program to integrate people into the world of manufacturing.

The committee started by wanting to offer internships to adults in the county, but learned the cost would create an obstacle, so instead, it has focused its sights on high school students, where the districts will cover that cost.

“We have been working through out Workforce Development Committee, which is some representatives from schools districts, some administrators, with local business manufactures, as well as MVCTC, and Job and Family Services. We’ve been talking for quite awhile. We need to bridge the gap between high school and post-high school, whether it be college or the workforce,” Hoff explained.

“College is not for everyone, so we’re trying to help those students who may be entering the workforce with a direct pathway. So, this whole pilot program idea started with us talking to the manufacturers to see if they would be willing to take interns into their companies. They have agreed to do that, because manufacturers are looking to hire as well.

“This is a partnership between CTC, schools, and the local manufactures. In which, we are going to be focusing, for the pilot program, on a very small population of students. This is not going to be for all students. We are starting with our seniors who are in the CBI program.”

The CBI Program stands for Career Based Instruction and is for students who “are getting a second chance in school success,” according to Hoff. However, Tri-County North does not have a CBI Program. Instead, their equivalent is their AG400 program.

Hoff added, they are going to take one or two of those students from each school districts and place them in the internships. Students will have four hours of work and will be paid $10.50 per hour for their work. In addition to the work, they will have online coursework through MVCTC.

This coursework will help them towards a Certified Production Technician certificate, which is an industry credential that also functions as an alternative way to graduate. Some students are having difficulties meeting the state requirements for graduation, so officials have rolled out alternative ways to graduate

One of those ways is by earning an industry credential, which MVCTC Students are receiving, but students who chose to stay at their home district are not. This is another way for students to earn that CPT certificate which will help them meet requirements to graduate.

“There are four components to what is called a CPT Certification or Credential. We are only going to be focusing on one area right now and that is the safety component, because every manufacturer operates differently, but safety is consistent. That is where we are going to focus our coursework right now,” Hoff said.

“Students will take the online coursework at their pace at their home district. While they’re working on that, they will be in the career field at their internships. At the end of the school year, the idea is that if the manufacture has an opening, if the intern has successfully completed their internship and has shown themselves to be a good worker, then the manufacturers have stated that they would give them a first look at filling that position.”

The manufacturers have all committed to providing mentors to these interns. These will be employees who will guide the interns and train them.

This gives the participating high school seniors a foot in the door at earning a livable wage right out of high school. It also gives them a paycheck now, which will help a lot of these students who, according to Hoff, are helping support their families. Hoff also noted that the manufacturers really went above and beyond with this agreement, because a lot of internships are not paid and this is allowing high school students to earn work and graduation credit, all while getting paid.

The companies included in the program are Bullen Ultrasonics, Henny Penny, Dow Chemical Company, TimkenSteel, Pratt Industries, and Silfex Inc.

This program, even when it launches in February, is still in its pilot stages, which is why only a small amount of seniors are being considered for the opportunity. Hoff hopes to eventually offer the program to all Preble County seniors.

He added, “It has been a really good opportunity to be a part of this committee where manufactures, schools, and community agencies are all working together. It is amazing. This is giving kids an opportunity at a career pathway, which is great.“

By Kelsey Kimbler

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH

Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH