SmallTownSouth - Business & Lifestyle Opportunities in the Rural American South
Click for FREE INFO on Business Opportunities in SmallTownSouth Click for FREE INFO on Lifestyle Opportunities in SmallTownSouth - Opportunities in the South's Rural and Urban Small Towns
Email This Page
Sunday, August 20, 2017
 News Archives

The State of the Rural South's Economy

Selling your Rural Community's Assets

Small Town's with Unique Assets

Highly touted reshoring event hits speed bump, says A.T. Kearney. Really?

Chinese investment surfacing in the South? Yes, finally.

The performance of this Southern industry sector of late has earned an official name: the "Southern Aerospace Corridor."

A success story from the Mississippi River Delta

The 50-year economic development war in the U.S. is over; the South won.

The big dogs are about to eat: Soon, the automotive industry will light up the Southern Auto Corridor again 

Kentucky: The Spirit of the South

New Build-Ready Program Making More Sites Ready-To-Go

A Perfect Partnership

Next Gen KIH Program Taking Broadband to Every Corner of the State

Digital Version

Aerospace Industry Takes Off in the American South

Launching Pad for Growth and Innovation

In "Plane" View

"The Best Airplane Built in America"

Aerospace Industry State Overviews

Petrochemicals and the Southern Manufacturing Renaissance

Non-Petrochemicals and the Southern Manufacturing Renaissance

Ten Reasons Why Manufacturing is Booming in The South

The Most Southern Place on Earth

Ensuring a resilient Delta Region by training a skilled workforce

Driving toward success in Alabama's Black Belt

Arkansas's Big River Steel has found its home in the heart of America's Delta Region

Building a healthy economy and a healthy workforce in Illinois

Innovation and collaboration are building a Work Ready Kentucky

Louisiana's industry off to a fast start

Perfected in Mississippi

Certifying Southeast Missouri and beyond

Select Tennessee sites offer competitive edge

Reshoring and its potential effect on the Mississippi River Delta region


A perfect partnership

Kentucky's AMT program is revolutionizing how manufacturing employees are trained

By Trisha Ostrowski

When they graduate, KY FAME students have earned an associate's degree in Applied Science, 70 to 80 college credit hours, two year's work experience and no college debt.In 2011, the Manufacturing Institute estimated that as many as 600,000 skilled manufacturing jobs nationally were going unfilled because there weren't enough qualified workers. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky took steps to fill that gap by forming a model technical education program that is a beautiful partnership between industry, education and local economic development.

The Kentucky Federation of Advanced Manufacturing Education (KY FAME) was created because Toyota saw it needed to start replacing large numbers of retirees from its Georgetown plant. So, together with Bluegrass Community and Technical College, they created a pipeline of skilled young people to fill the void.

The program has been so successful that it has grown into what is now called the Advanced Manufacturing Technician program (AMT), including several additional manufacturers in the region. Students take most of their classes in a 12,000-square-foot classroom facility built by Toyota, called the Advanced Manufacturing Center. It emulates a modern manufacturing facility, and gives students practical opportunities to learn the skills they need to be successful.

More than a typical "technical college"

Students who enter the AMT program are sponsored by a member company. They attend classes two full days a week, and work for pay the other three days at their sponsoring company. School days are full eight-hour shifts, emulating the work day, and students complete the program in five semesters.

When they graduate, students have earned an associate's degree in Applied Science, 70 to 80 college credit hours and two year's work experience. In addition to classes that build technical skills, AMT students take general education classes like math, humanities and public speaking. Fees for the program are paid while students are employed, so they end up owing no college debt when they leave.

Bluegrass Community and Technical College even operates a campus now on the Toyota grounds, so students are able to develop skill with the equipment they'll be using on their new jobs.

Another member company is 3M, which operates a plant in Cynthiana. "If you look at building cars and making Post-it Notes, there's not a lot of difference," says Terry McMichael, a supervisor at the plant. The reality is both manufacturing processes use robots, which means the companies need people who can operate them.

Toyota recognizes that one key benefit for students is that the program allows them to quickly connect classroom learning with real-world application. And students have ready access to help if they begin to struggle in the classroom.

Toyota typically doesn't hire many community college or technical school graduates, primarily because they have found these schools focus too narrowly on technical skills instead of critical thinking, problem solving and communication. Logically, they took steps to change the marketplace by creating a partnership that combines learning those skills with developing the technical know-how to succeed as employees. It's a long-term investment that just makes sense.

But it's not that easy

The AMT program is not for everyone. Because the sponsoring companies are looking for young people who can develop into outstanding employees long-term, they want their investment to pay off. Minimum requirements to enter the program are finishing in the upper half of the student's graduating class and at least a 19 on the ACT math test.

Carol Crawford of Bluegrass Community and Technical College says it's important to maintain that selective approach to accepting students into the AMT program. "The world has changed," Crawford said. "They have to be able to perform academically. They can't just come in and be good with their hands."

Toyota started the program believing that many graduates would choose to go on to pursue a four-year degree. They have established a bachelor's in engineering program with the University of Kentucky. But, in reality, since the first AMT class graduated in 2012, only two have enrolled in the UK program. Most graduates (95 percent according to a recent Toyota report) continue on with the work they've trained to do instead, because they have developed practical skills and are making good money.

The AMT program has been viewed as such a success that Toyota has now developed similar programs at four other facilities. What began as a way for Toyota to provide training for its future employees has become a training ground for technical and classroom education as a partnership.

"The idea is to develop a global workforce," said Crawford. "That means we are building a more rounded worker." Ultimately, that means a win-win for manufacturers like Toyota and for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Southern Business & Development

Corporate and Industrial Sites in the World’s Fourth-Largest Economy

Southern Business & Development

 Southern Auto Corridor

Southern Auto

Steering the Automotive Industry to the World's Fourth-Largest Economy


2014 Annual Directory

 Bonus Issues
Southern Business & Development Southern Auto Corridor Small Town South Randle Report