Whirlpool’s Ottawa plant in Ohio needs to bring in more talent and a local technical college wants to better position its students for success after graduation. A new partnership between the Ottawa plant and Rhodes State College is now helping both reach their goals.
The Ottawa plant and Rhodes State are offering business or engineering technology students the opportunity to receive work experience while pursuing their degree through a program called Work, Earn and Learn. The two-year program allows students to gain valuable work experience at the Ottawa plant earning $19 an hour and the chance to earn up to $2,400 in scholarships. The plant gains newly educated and skilled employees.
“It’s not uncommon for someone who goes off to a four-year university to come out with more than $75,000 in student debt,” said Al Inkrott, Ottawa HR leader. “This gives these students an opportunity to get their education, come out debt free and have a full-time job once they complete the program.”
Participants in the program may receive either an associates degree from Rhodes State or an apprenticeship in the skilled trades field. The Ottawa plant location is the first to offer this program.
“If this program is a success, which we feel that it will be, Whirlpool is going to roll this out to all of our manufacturing plants in Ohio,” Inkrott said.
The Ottawa plant makes all full-size freezers sold by Whirlpool brand, Amana and Maytag in the U.S. About 60 percent of the units produced are upright freezers while the rest are chest models. The plant also produces trash compactors and the hybrid, heat-pump base for the company’s new ventless dryers.
Other plants in the U.S. offering some type of apprenticeships include Amana (Iowa), Cleveland (Tenn.), Clyde (Ohio), Findlay (Ohio), Greenville (Ohio) and Marion (Ohio). Most of these programs partner with local technical colleges.
According to U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, nearly 30 percent of all jobs by 2020 will require a postsecondary degree or credential. Experts also project a shortfall of nearly three million Americans lacking the post-secondary education required to fill these jobs. Whirlpool Corporation hopes to attract skilled workers through innovative partnerships like the one in Ottawa.
Watch a video about the program from one of the television stations in Lima, Ohio.