Mercury Marine employees in factory

Skills Gap in Manufacturing

Manufacturing companies have realized there is a significant gap between the talent they need to continue to grow their business, and the talent they can actually find. Here in Fond du Lac, Mercury Marine has run into this problem, and is working with Moraine Park Technical College to address these issues. The company has lost a lot of “tribal knowledge” due to retirements and they realized the need to improve the skills of their current employees.

Customized Training as an Educational Partner

In the past year, Moraine Park Technical College has partnered with Mercury Marine to create a CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) training program for new and seasoned employees in their machining departments. This is an 80 hour course that dives deep into the subjects of Math, Print Reading, Metrology, and CNC Mill and Lathe Operation.

Jerry Ciegelski, Plant General Manager at Mercury said, “The relationship we have built with Moraine Park Technical College has been outstanding.   We have worked together to create a Machining Fundamentals program that gives our employees a solid overview of technical skills, in a hands on environment that has helped them be safer, more attentive and productive once they complete the course.  The 80 hour course is a good mix of classroom training and hands on with lab experience.”

Industry Credentials – NIMS

This is the first program at the college that has implemented credentialing through the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS).

“The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) was formed in 1994 by the metalworking trade associations to develop and maintain a globally competitive workforce. NIMS sets skills standards for the industry, certifies individual skills against the standards and accredits training programs that meet NIMS quality requirements.” (NIMS)

The students must complete 13 individual Work Activities, as well as 42 skill checks throughout the 80 hour training to ensure they are understanding the material and applying the correct principles on the equipment to produce 8 separate machined parts to blueprint specifications.

Students that successfully complete all of the above are then able to take online tests to prove they have the knowledge in the following two disciplines:

CNC Turning: Operations

CNC Milling: Operations

Practical exercises that reinforce application to business

Students spend a minimum of 48 class hours working on the CNC lathes and CNC mills learning the controls, setting offsets, cutting parts, inspecting features and verifying parts meet the print specifications.

CNC Instructor Josh Geschke said, “There is no better way to prepare yourself for the workplace environment than to get out into the shop and start making parts. The thing that is so important to our machining industry is that parts need to be 100% correct all of the time. A part that is 99% correct is scrap and is unacceptable. This training helps to reinforce the importance of quality and how students need to be doing things the right way to ensure successful results.”

Innovative solutions tailored to your business needs

The approach the college takes in working with customers is to ensure that we are meeting the needs of the business at all times. After each session of the Mercury Marine training, the instructor takes time looking at feedback from the students and modifying the curriculum to ensure that the students are getting the most out of their training time.

Jerry stated, “I am grateful that Josh and the staff at MPTC have been flexible and adaptive to make adjustments to the timing and curriculum based upon the feedback of the students.  As a result we have seen consistent improvement in outgoing testing results and have continued to receive extremely positive feedback from the students that are completing the course.” Katrina Cronce, employee at Mercury and student in the class said, “The class was great in every aspect.”

Lasting Partnerships

This training started out as a sit down meeting with a handful of Mercury employees with the intent of running a trial training program to prove the benefits and enhancement of skills. We are now almost a year into the training and the students have earned over 70 industry credentials through NIMS.  Mercury Marine has been thrilled with the results of the training.  Jerry stated, “Although we have only been on this journey for one year, it is my intention to send all machining employees through this program as we move forward.”

Learn more about partnering with Moraine Park for customized training.

Written by Samantha Story