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Home // Press Releases // LIFT’s “Operation Next” Hits Goal of Providing Training to 101 Soldiers, Preparing Them for Their Next Careers – in Advanced Manufacturing

LIFT’s “Operation Next” Hits Goal of Providing Training to 101 Soldiers, Preparing Them for Their Next Careers – in Advanced Manufacturing

September 23, 2019

LIFT’s “Operation Next” Hits Goal of Providing Training to 101 Soldiers, Preparing Them for Their Next Careers – in Advanced Manufacturing

Pilot program provides separating military personnel with skills and credentials for the most in-demand advanced manufacturing jobs

FORT CAMPBELL, KY. – LIFT – Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow, a Detroitbased, Department of Defense-funded applied research and development institute operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), today announced it has hit its goal of providing education and training to 101 separating soldiers for their next careers – in advanced manufacturing.

Operation Next, powered by LIFT and launched as a pilot in early 2018 at Fort Campbell, Ky., is an innovative training and credentialing program providing a blended learning curriculum to soldiers within their last six months of service, but while still on active duty. Successful participation results in the individual earning one or more nationally portable, standards-based, industry-recognized credentials in high-demand manufacturing fields, enabling them to find high-paying, high-skilled jobs, which drive the national manufacturing economy.

The pilot established a goal of enrolling 101 soldiers in honor of the 101st Airborne housed at Fort Campbell. Nearly 90% of the program graduates have been hired into industry, while the remaining have chosen to continue their education or take some time off before joining the workforce.

“As a Department of Defense partner, LIFT prioritized its commitment to help separating military members transition to in-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing,” said Emily DeRocco, education and workforce development strategist, LIFT. “The skills gap is a real challenge for manufacturers, and our military personnel are well positioned to help solve it. They leave their Service with important foundational competencies like problem-solving, team-building, and a work ethic. We designed Operation Next to ensure they added the most in-demand technical skills, ensuring their readiness for the advanced manufacturing workforce.”

Currently, Operation Next offers two training tracks: Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) Machining and Industrial Technology Maintenance (ITM). These training programs lead to credentials from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) that validate skills attainment necessary to prepare the individual for the most indemand manufacturing jobs in our country.

The entire Operation Next curriculum can be started and completed within the individual’s final six months of service while they are still on active duty. Operation Next brings the market leaders in manufacturing training together into a full-service online learning platform that military personnel can access anytime and anywhere there is an internet connection before leaving the service, accelerating their transition into civilian manufacturing careers. The hybrid training program combines self-directed virtual learning with hands-on lab work and provides foundational knowledge, practical realworld skills, and national industry credentials with immediate value in the labor market.

“Being headquartered in Detroit, the heart of American manufacturing and the ‘Arsenal of Democracy,’ we are thrilled to be able to lead this effort in support of our men and women in uniform as well as the manufacturing base across the nation,” said Nigel Francis, chief executive officer, LIFT. “Filling the ‘missing middle’ is critical to our national and economic security, and Operation Next is the model to fill that gap.”

More information on Operation Next can be found at www.lift.technology/opnext.

ABOUT LIFT
LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute (ALMMII), is a Detroit-based, public-private partnership committed to the development and deployment of advanced lightweight material manufacturing technologies, and implementing education and training initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT is one of the founding institutes of Manufacturing USA, and is funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit www.lift.technology or follow on Twitter @NewsFromLIFT to learn more.

OPERATION NEXT:
Preparing Military Personnel for Careers in Advanced Manufacturing

Developed by LIFT and launched as a pilot at Fort Campbell, Kentucky in early 2018, Operation Next is an innovative, manufacturing-focused training and credentialing initiative. Operation Next provides a blended learning program to soldiers within their last six months of service, but while still on active duty, resulting in the individual earning one or more nationally portable, standards-based, industry recognized credentials. At Fort Campbell, Operation Next offers two training tracks: Computerized Numerical Control (CNC) Machine Operation and Industrial Technology Maintenance (ITM). These training programs lead to a credential – from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) – that validates the individual is prepared for the most in-demand manufacturing jobs in our country.

The innovative design of Operation Next is evident in the following program steps:
Connection to Separating Military: Working with base leadership, Operation Next is presented as an exceptional opportunity for transitioning service members to gain in-demand technical skills and move directly to good jobs with competitive wages upon separation.
Introduction to Advanced Manufacturing Careers: With area employers, Chambers of Commerce and other partners, individuals can tour manufacturing facilities, meet with company leadership and discuss manufacturing job and career opportunities.
Self-Assessment: At the start of the program and in each module throughout the training, students can earn ‘credit’ for what they already know and can do. Each student’s journey through the program is customized to their background, knowledge and experience.
Selection of Major: Armed with a new understanding and appreciation for the manufacturing sector, participants select their preferred program of study: CNC Machining or ITM.
Self-Paced Concept Training and Simulated Hands-on Learning: The training, including simulated hands-on application, requires only a computer and an internet connection and can be done anywhere and anytime the individual has after completing duty assignments.
Hands-on Application and Skills Assessment: As milestones are reached in the online learning, the individual is triggered to schedule hands-on lab activities with nearby college partners for applied learning on real world manufacturing equipment.
Credential Earned: Once the student has worked through all the learning modules and completes learning and practice time on the equipment, their performance is assessed and the NIMS credential in their chosen field is conferred.
Transition to In-Demand Manufacturing Jobs: Operation Next students are engaged with employers throughout their training, creating the relationships that result in rapid employment opportunities after separation.

The goal of the Fort Campbell pilot was 101 soldiers (in honor of the 101st Airborne headquartered at Campbell) completing the Operation Next training, earning their credential and moving into a civilian career in advanced manufacturing. The pilot goal has been achieved. As of mid-September 2019, 101 soldiers are either currently in training or have already graduated and earned one or more credentials. Of those who have completed their training and earned a credential, 87% have accepted a job in advanced manufacturing. Those who have not yet accepted a civilian job offer have elected instead to build on what they have learned through Operation Next and continue their education.

Given the success of the pilot and the continued acute need for an advanced manufacturing workforce with both technical and foundational employability skills, the imperative now is to expand and scale Operation Next. For more information about Operation Next, contact: Emily DeRocco at ederocco@gmail.com or Eileen Pickett at eileen@epickettconsulting.com

Contacts:
Joe Steele
LIFT
313-309-9132
jsteele@almmii.org