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Academy of Advanced Manufacturing Provides Free Training for U.S. Veterans

Category: Smartforce By: Catherine Ross, Director of Education, Smartforce Development, AMT - The Association for Manufacturing Technology Nov 8, 2021

To help tackle the shortage of skilled workers in advanced manufacturing, Rockwell Automation and ManpowerGroup teamed up to co-develop the Academy of Advanced Manufacturing (AAM) to provide U.S. military veterans with training and skills for employment in the industry.

Launched in 2017, the 12-week training program is free, includes housing, and consists of both hands-on labs and classroom-based learning on network infrastructure, industrial controller products and applications, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), human machine interfaces, and computer networking.

Candidates also work on soft skills such as project management. Coaches help students create resumes and conduct mock job interviews. Graduates begin interviewing for employment during the 12-week program so they can transition to work immediately after completion. Employment opportunities are national.

Why veterans are a good fit
“Veterans are ideal candidates for the program because they already have many of the skills to do well in advanced manufacturing,” says Mary Burgoon, business development manager at AAM. “In addition to basic experience in technology, they understand the value of discipline, teamwork, flexibility, and working in diverse environments.”

To date, hundreds of veterans have been trained and more than 80% have been successfully placed in critically needed roles such as automation and controls technician, electro-mechanical technician, maintenance technician, and maintenance supervisor. Income is competitive and typically starts at around $60,000, with the average being about $68,000.

Recent graduate shares his thoughts
We spoke with Jackson Henderson, a 2019 graduate of the program, who was honorably discharged from the U.S. Air Force in 2018. Henderson was hired as a machine technician by Owens Corning, the $7.1 billion global building and industrial materials manufacturing company, and works in Memphis.

“I saw it as a big opportunity to gain skills that were in demand nationally when I left the Air Force,” says Henderson. “In the beginning, the coursework was a bit challenging because I hadn’t worked in manufacturing before – unlike some others in the class – but I got up to speed pretty quickly. Currently I do electrical-mechanical and maintenance work on all the PLCs that control the processes at the plant.”

“I see my future as wide open. Possible promotion opportunities include technology leader, capital engineer, plant leader, regional controls technician, and more. I think this may be the wave of the future to be trained in a field where there are many employment opportunities waiting. Three months of training and I entered a career field, not just a job.”

For more information, visit Academy of Advanced Manufacturing.

About the Author

Catherine Ross is an advocate for career-tech education and the future of work. In her decade-plus in U.S. Manufacturing, she has directed quality accreditation programs, organized national STEM events and student competitions, and served as liaison and manager for federal workforce initiatives.

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