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DCTC brings years of grant experience to workforce projects

ROSEMOUNT, MN – (May 25, 2012)

If you’ve enjoyed a store-brand granola bar, there’s a good chance it was manufactured by the  ConAgra Foods facility in Lakeville, MN. When ConAgra Foods identified a need for extensive employee training, they worked with Dakota County Technical College to partner on a training grant from Minnesota Job Skills Partnership. The MJSP program is part of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The ConAgra Foods/DCTC grant, implemented in 2009 and wrapping up in spring 2013, is providing over $383,000 for training-related expenses. The extensive training program includes operator skills, automation, mechatronics, and continuous skills coaching in the form of leadership training.

Kristi Kuhnau, Human Resources Generalist with ConAgra Foods, is very pleased with the technical training the employees are receiving from Dakota County Technical College. She also points to the positive impact of leadership training.

“The Foundations of Leadership training has been well-received and really made a difference in attitude and teamwork,” Kuhnau says. “DCTC was able to take existing company leadership curriculum and customize it for different levels within the organization, including floor operators. The training helped them understand that ‘one size fits all’ leadership is not always the best way to lead. They learned to look at the different facets of each situation and avoid jumping to conclusions.”

Michael Foods is also working with DCTC through a MJSP training grant. Michael Foods’ subsidiary, Northern Star Co., received a grant for $287,000 to train employees at its new potato production facility in Chaska, MN. Training at the new facility, relocated from Minneapolis, has included maintenance, troubleshooting, operator training and development of standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Doug Meyer, Human Resources Manager with Northern Star Co., says SOPs have been developed for 75 percent of the plant positions, greatly improving operations and employee training. Additionally, mechatronics training – including computer skills and math for technicians, industrial electricity, and rigging – have been very successful and well received by the maintenance staff.

“It is voluntary attendance, and attendance levels have been maintained. We will probably continue with this training down the road, even after we finish the grant funding,” Meyer said. “DCTC, the instructors and the SOP developers were great to work with. This grant was a very positive experience and our facility has benefitted greatly from every dollar that was spent.”

“Technical colleges are key to growing the skilled workforce the manufacturing industry needs and the MJSP grant program helps accomplish that,” says Patrick McQuillan, Dean of Customized Training at DCTC. “Customized Training bridges the gap between employees and the skills they need to meet today’s job challenges, whether training in the classroom or at industry sites.”

Since 2000, Dakota County Technical College has partnered with 56 Minnesota businesses for over $12 million in MJSP training grants. Business partners have included Goodrich Sensor Systems, Uponor, Capital Safety, Baldinger Bakery, Loram Maintenance of Way, Gausman & Moore Engineering, and Universal Hospital Services.

Training is truly customized for the needs of each business and includes a wide range of topics, from programmable logic controllers to panel view training, from leadership to hand soldering. Any training employees need, the customized training department at DCTC can make it happen.

Dakota County Technical College, as part of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU), has access to a wide range of subject matter experts within the system and working in industry. MnSCU is the leading training provider in Minnesota; each year, the colleges and universities serve about 6,000 employees and train more than 150,000 workers.

To view this article from the Association of Manufacturing Excellence September Newsletter, click here.

For more information about Manufacturing & Trades, contact:
  • Marlo Miller
    CT Director of Manufacturing and Technology
Categories: Manufacturing & Trades
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