Editor’s note: This article was updated on March 28, 2022, at 10 am to reflect that students have until Tuesday, April 5 to contact their guidance counselor about enrolling in the ASPECT program.

MOUNT VERNON – A coalition of Knox County manufacturers and the Knox County Workforce Development Alliance (WorkDev), led by the Area Development Foundation, announces the return of the Knox ASPECT training course. The class is designed to prepare students for careers in manufacturing by teaching necessary skills for the industry.

The course is targeted to current high school seniors and will meet at the Knox County Technical Center on Thursdays during the school day in April. The program will focus on a variety of topics ranging from technical skills and safety to soft skills like teamwork, conflict resolution, interview skills. Students will also take a strength-finding assessment to learn about their unique strengths and how those can apply to a career in manufacturing.

The payoff for the participants is that any candidate who successfully completes the program will have a guaranteed job interview with all 10 of the participating Knox County-based manufacturers, all of whom are seeking to hire for open positions.

“The past two years have been exceptionally challenging,” said Stephanie Burson, strategic initiatives manager for Ver-Mac Industries. “The local manufacturing workforce shortage is something that Ver-Mac has struggled with for years. We are excited to participate in a program that is trying to solve a growing issue in our community.”

The 10 Knox County-based employers are:

• Burrows Packaging

• Coyne Graphic Finishing

• Diemaster

• Eagle Engineered Solutions

• Jeld Wen

• Kokosing

• Mauser

• Owens Corning

• Schafer Driveline

• Ver-Mac

For more information about the program visit the Knox County Area Development website KnoxADF.com. Any high school senior interested in participating in the program should contact their guidance counselor by Tuesday, April 5. To see highlights from the previous ASPECT program, click here.

“Manufacturing is Knox County’s largest sector and provides the fuel for our local economy, said Jeff Gottke, president of the Knox County Area Development Foundation. “Knox County is lucky to have forward looking local businesses and groups like WorkDev, who are looking to find creative solutions to solve modern problems that will maintain our high standard of living.”

Knox County has hundreds of unfilled manufacturing jobs, drastically affecting an essential industry that comprises 22% of the County’s economy. Across Ohio manufacturing is the leading industry accounting for 17% of the state’s GNP. To support the industry that helps fuel our communities, ASPECT aims to connect Knox County residents to high-quality manufacturing jobs that are close to home.

The pilot version of the program ran in the Fall of 2021 and resulted in 100% placement for the participants who completed. With that success as a foundation, the program will return for a Spring of 2022 cohort focused on soon to graduate high school students from Knox County High Schools and the Knox County Career Center.

The Knox ASPECT program is supported by the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership at Columbus State Community College (MEP at CSCC).

“The Ohio MEP program exists to support manufacturers as they grow and face challenges,” said Jeff Spain, director of the MEP at CSCC. “Workforce is a challenge that every manufacturer is facing. The opportunity to support a program like Knox ASPECT and create a talent pipeline for those manufacturers is exactly the kind of opportunity we were excited to support.”

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