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KAMA fall session open for registration

Deadline is Aug. 23 for five-week condensed course for adults

Through a new partnership with West Michigan Works, Barry County will host a KAMA program this fall.

This free training for jobs is focused on adults who wish to expand their skills and knowledge for a successful career in manufacturing.

A condensed course in advanced manufacturing basics will run approximately five weeks, from Sept. 3 through Oct. 10. Sessions will be Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Kalamazoo Community College Fehsenfeld Center in Hastings.

Manufacturing plant tours, mock interviews and an in-depth manufacturing capstone project are included in the curriculum.

With local unemployment rates at historical lows, the demand for talent is increasing. And this means opportunities for Barry County youth and young adults, Travis Alden, Barry County Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Alliance president, said.

Bringing those opportunities to the forefront is crucial for the future success of the local economy as well as individual career prosperity.

“Multiple collaborative initiatives in Barry County are actively moving the needle when it comes to talent development,” Alden said. “For a small community, there’s a lot going on.”

Organizations such as the chamber/EDA, Barry Community Foundation, Barry Career Access Network, local school districts and others have established and continue to pursue innovative workforce development programs to not only help local employers thrive, but connect local residents – primarily youth – with opportunities to be successful, he said.

These opportunities range from career-exposure tours at local companies, a countywide career expo, participation in the regional MICareerQuest event and new career and technical education opportunities for students.

The signature initiative, the Kellogg Advanced Manufacturing Assembly training program, has seen three successful groups of graduating high school seniors not only gain necessary hard and soft skills, but also employment at local manufacturing firms immediately after completing the program.

“I’ve seen students begin KAMA with zero plans for after graduation and minimal motivation to succeed,” Mike Schneiderhan, workforce development coordinator with the chamber/EDA, said. “KAMA sparks something in these kids.

“Through this program, they see how training can positively impact their careers and their lives. I’m not exaggerating when I say I’ve seen students transform during their KAMA experience, in outstanding ways.”

The KAMA curriculum – which is continually improved by KCC staff with collaboration from local stakeholders – includes components ranging from financial literacy and teamwork to hands-on math, measurement and safety. The experience culminates in a multi-week manufacturing simulation capstone that immerses students in a real-world manufacturing experience.

“We regularly hear success stories from our KAMA graduates, ranging from promotions at work to receiving tuition assistance to get additional training,” Alden said. “Every student success from KAMA is not only one more local resident on their way to prosperity, but it’s also helping to strengthen our community economy by keeping our local companies staffed up.”

Those interested in the fall program should call Tina Wescott at the West Michigan Works office in Hastings, 616-649-9848. Registration deadline is Friday, Aug. 23. West Michigan Works will potentially cover all tuition costs for qualifying applicants.




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