Reading, Writing And Welding

Almost daily an article can be found discussing the lack of qualified individuals to fill manufacturing positions. Well, one school in Pennsylvania is working to address that need.

Almost daily an article can be found discussing the lack of qualified individuals to fill manufacturing positions. Well, one school in Pennsylvania is working to address that need.

Precision Manufacturing Institute (PMI) currently has an enrollment of 450 students in two facilities. The school offers training in everything from welding to MS Office and has over $8 million of equipment on site in its new facility.

PMI is a private non-profit organization which evolved from National Institute of Flexible Manufacturing as a way to keep local manufacturers’ employees up to date on the latest technology and trends. The school currently has 22 diploma and certificate programs.

Recently, the school announced that it would be expanding into eastern Ohio. The new location will begin offering classes by mid-September of 2006. Classroom sessions will be held at a local school, while the hands-on training will be done at B.C. Machining, a local business.

“The response from the community has been very positive,” PMI Executive Director Jerry Knight said. “This will address the severe shortage of manufacturing training.”

Knight said that the next step for the Ohio location is to become certified in the state, which will take approximately six months.

PMI has a 98% placement rate for its graduates.

One company that has trained several employees with PMI is Tech Tool and Molded Plastics of Meadville, Pa.

“We recently hired two graduates of PMI,” Tracy Coon, Human Resources Manager at Tech Tool and Molded Plastics said. “We utilize their training programs quite a bit.”

Coon said that she has found PMI graduates to be very qualified and that the school provides a solid foundation for the tooling industry.

“With the new facility, it feels like a school that will bring more people into our industry,” Coon said. “The school is good at listening to the industry and adapting its programs to fulfill those needs.”

Coon also commented that she likes the idea that PMI has partnered with local colleges, so students can take those credits earned at PMI and apply them towards a baccalaureate degree. Coon also is keen on the partnerships PMI has developed with various members of the manufacturing industry, as well as the board’s makeup.


Students gain both classroom and hands-on experience at PMI.
Photos courtesy of PMI.

“They have a great mix of people,” Coon said. “The board is made up of industry professionals and regularly works with the NTMA (National Tooling and Machining Association), both on a local and national level.”

A main issue right now for the school is the hardship for students to attend classes due to the high price of gasoline, according to Knight. PMI will then go to various companies and train onsite. “We have run classes as small as three or five students,” Knight said.

According to Coon, the new facility is only two blocks away fro m their location, so employees are always going to be trained. At the moment, approximately 25 employees are currently enrolled at the school for additional training.

“The new location is state-of-the-art, that is for sure,” Coon said. “They are very good at listening and accommodating us.”

The school is currently preparing to apply for a grant under the Bush Administration’s American Competitiveness Initiative. “We think we have the right model,” Knight said. The American Competitiveness Initiative was announced by President Bush during the 2006 State of the Union Address as a way to encourage more aggressive investment in American R&D, education and entrepreneurship.

“As the equipment gets more advanced, so does the training need,” Knight said.

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