WorkAdvance Manufacturing Training Program

Raise the Bar Hancock County (RTB) is partnering with Owens Community College (OCC), the Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CAM), and Habitat for Humanity of Findlay/Hancock County’s Financial Opportunity Center (FOC) to launch a short-term training program, WorkAdvance.

WorkAdvance has benefitted job seekers and manufacturers in other Ohio regions. The model relies on local partnerships to conduct grassroots referrals, screen participants for program eligibility, offer a short-term training to equip individuals with job readiness and technical skills necessary for manufacturing roles, and pair program alum with a career coach to reduce barriers to employment.

Hancock County’s WorkAdvance program requires eligible individuals to participate in a two-week training. The training covers job readiness skills; math refreshers; and technical training such as safety, robotics, machining, quality, troubleshooting, and assembly. Participants will interact with OCC and FOC instructors to gain familiarity and comfort with the expectations of local manufacturing workplaces.

At the end of the training, partnering manufacturers will interview participants and potentially offer positions on their teams. For up to 365 days, too, participants will have the support of the FOC’s career coach to address issues with financial stability, housing, transportation, daycare, food security, mental health, or continuing education.

“This funding is allowing our community’s greatest assets to come together and better support our local workforce,” said Raise the Bar Executive Director Tricia Valasek.



“The Financial Opportunity Center added Jen Galbraith as a career coach to focus entirely on this program. She brings a wealth of experience in human resources and vulnerable populations to this project. Pairing Jen with the incredible manufacturing and safety expertise at Owens Community College and the University of Findlay’s All Hazards Training Center, which will be facilitated by the new Center for Advanced Manufacturing, makes our WorkAdvance program prime for our region.”

The initiative is part of The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association’s statewide strategy to build a talent pool of entry- and higher-skilled manufacturing employees. Funding for this effort, up to $950,000 for Hancock County, comes from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Good Jobs Challenge grant program. Raise the Bar expects to train more than 70 new manufacturing employees and upskill an additional 40 current manufacturing employees through the WorkAdvance program.

Statewide, WorkAdvance programs are targeting untapped workforce pools, including the unemployed, underemployed, underrepresented, people of color, women, veterans, and returning citizens. Interested referral organizations and individuals can reach out to [email protected] to learn more.

 Raise the Bar intends to host a Community Connectors event in June 2023 for area referral agencies to tour manufacturing facilities and learn about employment opportunities and expectations.