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Apprenticeship program sponsored by Greater Ohio Workforce Board awards 1st certificates in Tiffin

The five maintenance technicians at GRAMMER Americas spent 2,000 hours in on-the-job training and classroom work to earn their certificates.

TIFFIN, Ohio — When you think of workforce development, you probably think of training to help get people hired.

Now there's a state program that's training current employees for upward mobility.

Five employees of GRAMMER Americas received their apprenticeship certificates as maintenance technicians Wednesday in Tiffin.

They are the first people in Ohio to complete their 2,000 of on the job training and classroom work through a program with the Greater Ohio Workforce Board.

The board sponsors this apprenticeship program by taking on all of the administrative duties for the host companies to help cut through the usual bureaucratic red tape.

"And there's a lot of it. So, we wanted to remove that from GRAMMER," Rocky Rockhold, program manager for the Greater Ohio Workforce Board, said, "and remove it also for those candidates, those employees, and just give them ease of access to education and give them ease of access to training."

For these five at GRAMMER, their employer paid for all of their classes.

The goal is to train these workers to succeed within their current business, instead of wanting to find another job elsewhere.

"I think every company in Ohio should get on board with this. It's nothing but positivity," Taylor Stiltner, one of the employees who received his apprenticeship certification, said.

Credit: Jon Monk
Currently GRAMMER Americas in Tiffin employs 330 employees, while management says they'd like to hire about 30 more

"It's extremely vital that we have the trained technical staff to keep our machines running. In the industry that we work, there's not a lot of product between us and our customers and so, having the uptime is extremely important," GRAMMER Americas Tiffin plant manager Christian Tooman said.

The ultimate goal of this initiative is to help Ohio employers train and in turn retain their current workforce while also upscaling the skill set of these workers to prepare them for future innovation.

"We don't know what our jobs will look like in five to 10 years out. So, we're trying to get our employees and our educational world to understand the important thing is critical thinking so that we can adapt to future technologies," state Sen. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, said. 

"And we know it's not just rate of pay that keeps someone on their job, it's having an investment in them," Rockhold said. "And this is another way for an employer to show 'We're invested in you as an individual and we're willing to train you and skill you for the rest of your life.'"

The folks at the Greater Ohio Workforce Board say these five new apprentices are only the beginning, as currently there are 27 other individuals around Ohio going through this program as well.

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