GE Appliances looks to grow Louisville Ky manufacturing workforce

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LOUISVILLE, Ky.—Oct. 27, 2015— GE Appliances is hosting the first-ever Greater Louisville Manufacturing Workforce Development Day today to confront the challenge of a growing shortage of qualified manufacturing workers. Designed to increase awareness and interest in manufacturing and develop a robust hiring pipeline to support manufacturing growth in Greater Louisville, the three-part day will include:

  • Summit of manufacturing leaders and community stakeholders who will develop a collaborative plan for solving the workforce crisis
  • Corporate contribution to two area high schools
  • Manufacturing experience for high school seniors

Greater Louisville manufacturers are facing a workforce crisis. Although the region is experiencing a resurgence in lucrative jobs in the manufacturing sector, the pool of trained, willing and able operators is shrinking. Many potential employees are unaware of opportunities and ill-prepared to be successful in a manufacturing environment. Attrition rates are double digit, which wastes resources and limits the ability of manufacturers to grow. Manufacturers contribute millions to the regional economy, but they cannot thrive in areas where they cannot find and keep enough people to do the work.

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“GE Appliances has added some 3,000 manufacturing jobs since 2010 as we’ve invested $1 billion in our Louisville operations and the products made here,” said Chip Blankenship, President and CEO of GE Appliances. “That job growth hasn’t been easy. Finding, training and keeping new production employees is becoming increasingly difficult and costly in terms of productivity and efficiency. And, we’re not alone. Manufacturers in our area are experiencing a workforce crisis. We cannot continue to grow manufacturing in Greater Louisville unless and until we turn this situation around.”

To address this crisis, Workforce Development Day will include a Workforce Development Summit led by manufacturers collaborating with educators, representatives from state and local governments, nonprofits and others to develop an integrated, multi-organizational, regional solution so Greater Louisville manufacturers can succeed and grow. A critical outcome of the meeting will be a roadmap outlining a systemic approach to the issue with short-, medium- and long-term solutions with clear owners, deliverables, timelines and success metrics.

Building Awareness and Programs for Area High School Students
Workforce Development Day also will feature a public announcement that GE Appliances, along with Amatrol, the world’s leader in skills-based, interactive technical learning, and Amatrol’s authorized distributor Technical Training Aids, are making a donation of nearly $150,000 in equipment, curriculum and training to the Bullitt County Area Technology Center and Jeffersontown High School. The donation announcement will take place today at GE Appliance Park during a half-day manufacturing experience for high schools students from Bullitt County and Jeffersontown High School.

Some 30 students and educators will hear from people who’ve made a career of working in manufacturing, meet students pursuing certification as an Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT), and tour GE Appliances’ dishwasher plant, marking the first time high school students have been allowed in the GE Appliances factories. The experience is designed to showcase modern manufacturing and the variety of safe, high-tech and challenging opportunities available to those who are trained and ready to work.

The AMT students in attendance are members of the first class in the Greater Louisville Chapter of Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (KYFAME), a two-year work and learn program in which students earn their certification as Advanced Manufacturing Technicians (AMT). The class, started in August 2015, has 16 students sponsored by seven area manufacturers. AMT students work three days a week at their sponsoring employer and go to school at Jefferson Community and Technical College two days a week to earn an associate’s degree in Applied Science in Industrial Maintenance Technology and gain considerable on-the-job training, potentially with little to no education debt.

Bullitt County and Jefferson County Public Schools have demonstrated their commitment to preparing students for manufacturing careers, and the donation will foster further growth and development of their manufacturing training programs and students. Although Bullitt does not have an advanced manufacturing program, seven of its students are participating in the AMT program. Three participating students are from Jefferson County Public Schools, including two from Jeffersontown. Jeffersontown has a robust manufacturing program, and this contribution will help build it out further with new equipment.

Paul Perkins, President of Amatrol, said the new state-of-the-art training equipment and interactive multimedia curriculum will introduce students to exciting technologies commonly used in today’s manufacturing environments. “Our mission with this donation is to familiarize high school students with modern manufacturing careers and motivate them to make manufacturing a top career choice.”

The technical training courses at the high schools—made possible through these donations—will expose students to a manufacturing career path that runs either directly to the job market or to a post-secondary program such as AMT.

“On behalf of the many students in the Bullitt County community who will benefit from this most generous donation, I say thank you and assure you that we will use the lab to benefit our students’ futures and enhance the readiness of our community’s future workforce,” said Keith Davis, Superintendent of Bullitt County Public Schools.

“The generosity of GE and Amatrol will give participating Jeffersontown High School students up-to-the-minute insight into what it’s like to work in the modern, high-tech manufacturing industry,” said Dr. Donna M. Hargens, Superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools. “Students who can envision themselves doing something they enjoy are inspired to persist in finishing school, and to work harder for their future. The exclusive student tour of GE’s amazing labs and innovation centers, combined with the hands-on experience students will gain using the equipment purchased and installed through this grant, will help provide that kind of inspiration.”

Public officials praised the donation as well:
“The global manufacturing sector is undergoing a dramatic transformation,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “This donation demonstrates that local manufacturers are helping to reassert Louisville’s status as a leader in this vital sector of our economy.”

“This donation will help advance the important mission of the Bullitt County Area Technology Center, which is to support students pursuing technical education and skills training,” said Bullitt County Judge Executive Melanie J. Roberts. “Skills training is essential to the economic development of our region and the futures of our families.”

About Amatrol
Amatrol is the world’s leader in skills-based, interactive technical learning. The company’s comprehensive learning solutions range from engaging high school students in the learning of basic science and math to teaching hands-on skills in the latest, highly sophisticated motor drives. The company’s interactivity, both in equipment and computer-based learning solutions, integrated with strong alignment to industry needs is what makes Amatrol the industry’s leading technical education provider. For more information about Amatrol, visit www.amatrol.com.

About GE Appliances
GE Appliances is at the forefront of building innovative, energy-efficient appliances that improve people’s lives. GE Appliances’ products include refrigerators, freezers, cooking products, dishwashers, washers, dryers, air conditioners, water filtration systems and water heaters. General Electric (NYSE: GE) works on things that matter to build a world that works better. For more information on GE Appliances, visit www.ge.com/appliances.

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