GIBSON COUNTRY, Ind. - Car giant Toyota will invest $1 million in three Indiana high schools over the next four years to develop a regional workforce program. The program's goal will be to connect students with career opportunities in advanced manufacturing.
 
“By collaborating with our local schools, we are creating a workforce solution—but, more importantly—providing greater visibility to student career options and pathways in the region,” said Leah Curry, Toyota Indiana plant president, who Inside Indiana Business reports went to Gibson county schools himself.
 
The program will feature a high school-based curriculum in advanced manufacturing credited by Ivy Tech, the state's largest postsecondary school. Students will also get on-the-job training at Toyota in their junior and senior years. During their senior year, Toyota will pay students for their training.
 
Toyota says an average of 68 percent of Gibson County high school graduates sign up for college, but a mere 38 percent graduate. 
 
The program is set to begin this fall.
 
An inability to find workers remains one of the most pronounced issues affecting the woodworking industry and the manufacturing sector as a whole. Low unemployment rates, rural shop locations, and millennial low interest and work ethic are just a few of the causes, according to many wood product executives.
 
Last month, residential furniture giant Stickley Furniture announced their own paid-training program in New York. Pay during training will be $12 an hour.
 
In February, we surveyed 150 professional woodworkers to find out if their companies are affected by a shortage of workers. 80 percent said yes.
 
Over 65 percent say they are raising starting pay. Some say they are adding sign-on bonuses and jacking up vacation, sick days, and benefits.
 
42 percent said they are lowering hiring standards. Ex-cons, former addicts, and at-risk individuals previously ruled out are now being considered.
 
Over 37 percent say they are working with high schools, technical schools, and colleges to develop talent. 32 percent are granting young employees more accommodating schedules and nearly 17 percent are offering financial incentives to employees who refer workers.
 
 
 

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