June 13, 2022

Manufacturing Readiness Program

Stark Tuscarawas Workforce Development Board and OhioMeansJobs Stark County partnered
with Kent State University at Tuscarawas and the Stark County Manufacturing Workforce
Development Partnership to complete the first cohort of the Manufacturing Readiness Program on
June 10, 2022.

The program was designed to connect individuals with an interest in manufacturing careers to
specialized training and on-the-job experience with the assurance of full-time employment after
program completion.

The Manufacturing Readiness Program was specifically geared toward increasing manufacturing readiness skills for
participants and matching candidates with companies that agreed to hire those who successfully
completed the program and met employment requirements. Students earned credentials including
a Kent State Manufacturing Readiness Certificate, CPR/AED/First Aid certification, Lean Six Sigma
White Belt, and OSHA certification, each of which is highly portable, and recognized. Faith
Sheaffer-Polen of Kent State University stated, “All participants expressed gratitude for being
selected to participate and for having the chance to change their lives and the lives of their
family.” Sheaffer-Polen also noted that she admired them for persevering despite many personal

The mantra of the class became, “look forward not backward – the past is over.” As Faith SheafferPolen stated, “The graduates will have these certificates forever and they cannot be taken away.
These skills will always be with them now.” Sheaffer-Polen also shared that one of the goals of this
program was to have it be a stepping-stone for students learning, so they may continue their
development moving forward. All participants have since expressed their interest in wanting to
learn more and continuing to grow.

Each of the students overcame personal challenges in order to complete the class and expressed
how grateful they were that they chose to persevere. One student battled alcoholism and stated
that he would not have been able to complete the class if he was still fighting it. Another expressed
that he simply wanted to give up and quit on multiple occasions when it got difficult. One thing
consistently shared was that all pushed through for their family.

Dustin Dashner, program participant, shared what the program meant to him. He said that he was extremely happy with his internship, as he had never had a company care about him the way he was cared about now. He said on his way to work, he listens to the radio and thinks about how lucky he is for this opportunity. He is able to grab a cup of coffee before his shift officially starts, and then the entire group does stretching activities together because they do not want him to get injured on the job. Dashner shares that his co-workers are very friendly and always help him when he is learning something new.

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