On the fourth floor of the Monroe County Correctional Center, inmates sit on plastic chairs at four white, folding tables in the jail’s recreation room. The tables form a square pod where minimum- to medium-level offenders pore over binders filled with 100 pages on manufacturing.
“This gives us lots of hands-on experience,” inmate Jared Brown said. “It shows us everything that goes into manufacturing.”
Brown is one of 10 inmates enrolled in the Skills for Success program, a manufacturing training boot camp that provides both classroom and hands-on learning for entry-level work.
Classes cover subjects such as workplace etiquette, Occupational Safety and Health Administration certification and blueprint reading. A different subject matter is covered on each of the 10 days. On the second day of the program, for example, the inmates tinkered with nuts and bolts. On day eight this week, they will cover effective communication and critical thinking, and on the final day, problem solving and root cause analysis.
The training runs 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the jail’s recreation room, and concludes this week.
“Sitting here and learning the OSHA (standards) has been tiring,” inmate Timothy Snapp said. “But I came to this with no experience, and to have this really helps. I can take this and put it towards real-life situations.”
The program originally was created through Purdue University’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership to provide manufacturing training to all demographics, customizing the curriculum to what employers and managers specifically wanted, said Robert Hudson, the manufacturing workforce adviser with the organization.
In November, the Monroe County Correctional Center became the first jail to offer the program. This is the first time instructor and consultant Jeremiah Sinks has taught the program in a jail. He said everything is different, but the goal of helping people start an education in manufacturing remains the same no matter the classroom setting.