A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

KCTCS colleges partner with Metalsa for registered apprenticeships in effort to build, maintain workforce

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) is the largest provider of workforce education in Kentucky and has partnerships with businesses across the Commonwealth.

One of the longest standing partnerships is with Metalsa Structural Products, which has registered apprenticeship programs with Hopkinsville Community College (HCC) and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College (ECTC). The ECTC program began in 2007 and HCC has worked with the company since the 1980s when it was owned by Dana.

Metalsa Structural Products, with more than 60 years of experience in the automotive industry, manufactures safe and sustainable products for people around the world, seeking to minimize environmental impact through innovation in their processes and products. The Metalsa Elizabethtown location, which makes structural frames for the Ford F-150, has approximately 1750 employees. The Metalsa Hopkinsville location, which makes structural frames for the GM-610, has approximately 700 employees. Currently between the HCC and ECTC college programs, Metalsa has more than 40 employees enrolled on campus or onsite. Although both colleges have partnerships with Metalsa, the programs are not identical. They are developed to meet the local plant’s needs.

At Metalsa Elizabethtown, employees apply within for Metalsa apprenticeships first and then are enrolled and attend the technical programs that enhance their opportunities for promotion within the company. Metalsa Elizabethtown is a registered partner with the State of Kentucky Apprenticeship Program.

At Metalsa Hopkinsville, employees apply within for Metalsa apprenticeships first and then are enrolled and attend regular college classes on the HCC campus to include industrial maintenance courses. The college recently spent about six months revamping the classes specifically to meet Metalsa’s and other local business needs. Metalsa Hopkinsville also is a registered partner with the Kentucky Apprenticeship Program.

“Our training needs are constantly evolving,” said Johnna Howard, USA Learning and Development manager for Metalsa. “The colleges continue to play a significant role in helping us build training programs to meet those development goals and plans so that we can align to our employees’ competencies. They are very responsive to our needs, and their teams continue to be resourceful and helpful.”

ECTC has been Metalsa Elizabethtown’s partner for many additional classes including the Excel series, PowerPoint series and MS Project, as well as setting up an individual program for English classes for an employee with limited English skills. Metalsa also used ECTC classrooms for Kaeser Leadership training classes, audit training and various other training events.

“We’ve been very pleased with the opportunity to support our local partnership with Metalsa,” said Tom Davenport, dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at ECTC. “It’s a great honor for us to be asked to help workers who are acquiring skills that will be with them for a lifetime.”

At HCC, Metalsa’s senior staff members attend advisory board meetings, and many employees who are enrolled in the company’s tuition reimbursement program have chosen HCC when seeking their degrees. On a broader scale, HCC has been the main training provider for leadership programs and other workforce development needs for Metalsa’s technical and administrative departments. Additionally, when Metalsa upgraded some of its robotic equipment, the company helped HCC get a better price on their equipment as well.

Carol Kirves, HCC’s chief Community Workforce and Economic Development officer, said Metalsa is always the first to step up and help with campus events and invites HCC to their plant’s health and wellness day.

“They do a good job of taking care of their employees,” Kirves said. “We appreciate their partnership with the college.”

Through the KCTCS partnership, Metalsa is one of 21 companies receiving funding from the Kentucky Department of Labor, which provided $250,000 to help grow the number of registered apprenticeship programs across the state. KCTCS currently is serving approximately 500 students in apprenticeship programs.

“Through the Apprenticeship USA Expansion grant, Kentucky is able to create a viable pipeline of skilled workers serving the Commonwealth today and well into the foreseeable future,” Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey said. “Our education partner in the Expansion grant, the Kentucky Community and Technical College, understands how to modify traditional curriculum to meet the needs of business and industry— which is key to a healthy Kentucky economy.”

KCTCS

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