Entry-level RV training program scrapped at Ivy Tech

GOSHEN, Ind. (AP) — An Ivy Tech Community College program to train entry-level workers for northern Indiana’s recreational vehicle industry has been scrapped after it launched last year.

The program at the Elkhart County campus in Goshen was funded by area RV makers, but campus president Julie Foster said the manufacturers decided it was not worth investing to continue the program.

“It was about how much they paid per employee they got, and those numbers for them didn’t make sense,” Foster told the South Bend Tribune.

Foster said high demand exists for entry-level employees, but the 40-hour, five-day program that cost $50 didn’t attract enough participants.

“People couldn’t justify 40 hours a week to take a class when they could walk right across the street and get the job,” Foster said.

Several thousand people work in Elkhart County factories that produces more than three-quarters of the country’s RVs, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.

A maximum of 260 students could have enrolled over 13 five-day sessions offered by Ivy Tech. After finishing the program, there would be preferred interviews given to participants with one of the three corporate sponsors.

Foster said 158 students enrolled, with 105 finishing. She said the RV makers hired roughly half of those who finished the program, smaller than anticipated.

The number of people completing the Ivy Tech training paled in comparison to how much hiring the companies do, said Matt Rose, director of RVs for the Indiana Manufactured Housing Association-Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council. He said it’s “realistic to say these bigger companies are hiring” as many as 50 people per day.

“If they’re hiring hundreds per week, I would think having a program like this wouldn’t be worth the time, money and effort,” he said.

Rose said retaining employees is still a problem because of, among other things, failed drug tests and workers who leave to get more money elsewhere.

Manufacturers invested almost $200,000 altogether to start the program, Foster said. The community college system doesn’t plan to bring back the program, she said.

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com

 

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