Yakima County Development Association - Training Program for Manufacturers Deserves a Look

Jonathan Smith

The President’s Pen is a weekly blog written by Jonathan Smith, New Vision’s President and CEO about local economic development projects and initiatives. It also covers economic trends, workforce issues, business climate policies, and manufacturing news. 

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Training Program for Manufacturers Deserves a Look

Training Program for Manufacturers Deserves a Look

September 06, 2012

Our office recently hosted an interesting discussion on workforce training options for entry level manufacturing employees.  As part of this meeting we invited our partners down from Moses Lake to highlight an initiative they have developed to help local industry train and hire capable employees.  Jonathan Smith, with the Grant County Economic Development Council, talked to our group and explained that his companies were complaining about availability of good employees. 

Smith looked for models across the country that could help manufacturers and found an effective initiative running in Licking County, Ohio.  The region’s Center for Workforce Development developed an innovative pre-employment training (PET) program that was built on input and involvement from Licking County manufacturers.  The project has been very successful and the community expanded training to cover customer service and health care occupations.  Licking County’s PET program won a “Best Practices” award from the U.S. Department of Education and its initiative has been replicated in 30 other communities. 

Grant County tweaked the Licking County program for manufacturers and has run successful PET courses every quarter for the past two years.  Our group learned that Big Bend Community College plays a key role in the PET program by testing potential “students” and administering the training program.  A key to success has been the involvement of Grant County manufacturers.  They helped fund early start up costs and established the curricula for the PET program.  Most of the instructors for this 120+ hour course come from the participating manufacturers.  Another interesting aspect of the Grant County program is that people enrolling in PET must pay for the course.  Smith explained that getting students to help pay for the course motivates them to do well and stick with the fast paced six week training regimen.   Instructors also take attendance at these classes and students are booted if they have unexcused absences or are perennially tardy. 

Our office is now working with the Yakima Valley Community College and the South Central Workforce Council to explore how this program could work in Yakima County.  Several businesses at our meeting with the Grant County team were very interested in this initiative so we will be looking at the details and possibilities surrounding this workforce training program. 

The two links below provide more information about PET

Licking CountyPreemployment Training
PET Supplemental Materials


If you would like to be involved in this exploration or have questions about the PET program please contact Jean Brown or me at 575-1140 or jean@ycda.com.  We will keep everyone posted about our work on this initiative so look for updates from our office in the months ahead.  


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"It makes it extremely easy to recruit & sustain our workers with the quality of life and support of the business community." - Bill Bushbaum, Vice President, Amtech Corporation