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WorkForce offers free training

WorkForce Development will hold a free manufacturing academy next month in Red Wing.

The goal is to provide participants who have the necessary skills to enter a manufacturing career and to give them insight into what that kind of career entails.

"The intent is to get someone who is maybe not working right now used to being someplace at the same time every day, like a job is, and to make the commitment to us like they would to an employer so that getting back to work isn't such a big deal," said John Knippen, WorkForce academy instructor.

Topics range from safety in the manufacturing environment to general workplace responsibilities during the class beginning March 18 and ending April 5. Participants will be expected to arrive on time every day, Knippen said.

Manufacturing training is one type of academy that Workforce provides. The office also provides welding and renewable energy trainings.

Matthew Sanden, a welding student of Knippen's, said that the class "worked well with my time schedule" as he balanced another job and that it was easy to catch on.

The safety training was new for him, Sanden said, and even though he had some background in welding going into the training, he still learned different techniques' that he can now apply.

Knippen said he knows that not everyone will enjoy manufacturing like he has, and he said if they find that out in his class, that is not a bad thing.

"It saved them some time in their career search and it saved that manufacturer some time by not having someone start and then two weeks later say 'I don't really like this,'" Knippen said.

WorkForce Development started the program about five years ago when the state and federal governments projected a decline in workers in the manufacturing fields and decided it would be good to be proactive and train people to fill that gap, Knippen said. That is when he applied for the instructor position after working 38 years in the industry after going to school for a teaching degree.

It is a non-profit organization that receives money through grants on the state and federal levels to train people free of charge.

Sanden said that he would encourage people to apply to be part of the program if they want to get into the manufacturing field.

"It'd be better than not," he said.

How to enroll

• Contact the Red Wing WorkForce Center at 651-385-6480

• Schedule a meeting at the center, 1606 W. Third St.

• Complete an assessment to test basic math, reading and comprehension skills

• Take the class March 18 to April 5.