Gateway Launches Raise the Floor Initiative to Prepare Women for Highly Paid Advanced Manufacturing Careers

The Workforce Solutions and Innovation Division of Gateway Community and Technical College today launched Raise the Floor, an initiative designed to promote manufacturing careers to women and to prepare them for stable, highly paid, high performance production jobs.

Raise the Floor has two primary goals: to help women improve their economic well-being and increase the pipeline of skilled workers, in this case women, to ease the current and projected manufacturing labor shortage.

We are delighted to announce this new initiative that joins our existing efforts to promote manufacturing careers to high school students, displaced workers, and veterans, said Ed Hughes, Gateway president/CEO. We now have recruitment efforts aimed at four of the five worker populations identified by the Northern Kentucky Industrial Partnership, and we are working to develop outreach to the fifth, which is senior citizens.

This new program was developed by women for women, said Angie Taylor, vice president of Workforce Solutions and Innovation. A consortium of 26 female manufacturing executives and community leaders met throughout the summer and fall to pull the program together, with the assistance of our Dean of Workforce Solutions, Carissa Schutzman.

Hughes said resources from the $2.74 million TAACCCT Project IMPACT grant that Gateway recently received from the Department of Labor would be available to help fund the initiative.

Raise the Floor is designed to help women complete manufacturing training, find manufacturing jobs, and maintain employment to increase their economic self-sufficiency. Currently, women hold 10 percent of manufacturing jobs in the region, and the initiative also aims to increase the number of women in the manufacturing labor pool.

"Raise The Floor is an initiative that provides the opportunity for women to enter the manufacturing sector. This is a pathway to obtain skills that enable a sustainable living. Manufacturing is good business for Greater Cincinnati, Kentucky, and residents, said Laura Lyons, president of ATech Training, Inc., and chair of the Raise the Floor development consortium.

Raise the Floor will be implemented through four components, including awareness, training, support and process:
The awareness component focuses on promoting the initiative to the public and potential students to increase awareness of the benefits of manufacturing careers.
The training component will oversee the design and delivery of education and training to enable participants to be work-ready for manufacturing employers.
The support component involves overseeing the support system women need to be hired and effective in manufacturing positions.
The process component will focus on maintaining the initiative through innovative approaches to funding, programming and sustainability.

A Raise the Floor pilot program is currently under way with a small group of women from other Gateway programs who are involved in an introductory class, which will conclude Nov. 8.

The training portion formally kicks off in January when a group of 10 to 15 women are expected to take the Manufacturing Skills Standards Councils Certified Production Technician class. This four-credit-hour Gateway course ends in May and includes four assessments. When students pass all four assessments, they receive the nationally recognized Certified Production Technician certification.

Beginning in March 2014, women may enroll in the Mechatronics and Machining Career Pathways to be employment ready by May 15, 2014. One company has already asked to interview all of the candidates for its apprenticeship program, which provides full time employment and full tuition benefit for those wanting to pursue an associate degree.

The Raise the Floor initiative is a shot in the arm for our extensive manufacturing pipeline efforts, Hughes said. We are very grateful to the United Way, which has co-sponsored this effort, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, and all of the 26 women who so generously volunteered their time to develop this dynamic new initiative.