Operation Next: Wisconsin National Guard and Reserve Offered Opportunity for Advanced Manufacturing Certifications
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LIFT’s “Operation Next” initiative has launched its first program in Wisconsin. Operation Next will provide hands-on training and certifications in advanced manufacturing to members of the Wisconsin National Guard and Reserve and their spouses.

LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, in partnership with Western Technical College and Lab Midwest, today announced its “Operation Next” advanced manufacturing certification program is being made available to members of the Wisconsin National Guard and Reserve and their spouses.

Operation Next is an innovative, self-paced, advanced manufacturing-focused training and credentialing initiative, which blends hands-on and virtual learning. Wisconsin Guard and Reserve members are now able to take part in the program, following the States of Michigan and Florida and the completion of a successful initial pilot for separating military personnel at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Operation Next is expanding to nine additional military installations, in addition to the three National Guard and Reserve locations, providing training opportunities for military spouses, all with funding provided by the Department of Defense Manufacturing Engineering Education Program.

“Members of the National Guard and Reserve are highly professional, motivated individuals with natural leadership abilities and intangible skills,” said Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp, Wisconsin’s 31st Adjutant General. “The National Guard and Reserve both have no-fail military missions, but a big part of their readiness is ensuring they have meaningful employment in their civilian lives. Initiatives like this offer our troops a pathway into lifelong military-supportive careers, and I’m proud that Wisconsin is among the first states pursuing this sort of initiative.”

Western Technical College in La Crosse will recruit members of the Wisconsin Guard and Reserve and their spouses to enroll in the Operation Next program and will guide students through their educational experience to the attainment of nationally portable and industry-recognized credentials from either the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) or the Smart Automation Certification Alliance (SACA).

Western Technical College’s Business and Industry Services unit has a long history of developing flexible training programs to meet high industry demand in the region. The Western team will leverage state-of-the-art training labs, developed through a close partnership with Lab Midwest and Amatrol, to conduct hands-on training for the program, preparing individuals to earn college credit in addition to these credentials.

“Our Accelerated Skills Training program makes Western an ideal partner for LIFT and Operation Next,” said Angie Martin, Director of Business and Industry Services at Western Technical College. “We are proud to be able to expand these opportunities to the men and women of Wisconsin who have been serving their state so admirably for years.”

“Our military members have the leadership, commitment and motivational skills our advanced manufacturing sector needs, particularly the National Guard and Reserve who are ready, willing and able to work in their local economies,” said Nigel Francis, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, LIFT. “As a Department of Defense-sponsored national manufacturing innovation institute, our goal is to drive American manufacturing into the future through technology and talent development, and bringing Operation Next to Wisconsin keeps us on that mission.”

In addition to Operation Next’s expansion, with funding provided by the Department of Defense Manufacturing Engineering Education Program, the program is being offered to industry in support of small and medium-sized manufacturers in Detroit and Pittsburgh helping them recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. That expansion is funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and was awarded to LIFT by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Members of the Wisconsin Guard and Reserve can enroll at www.opnextjobs.com.

About LIFT

LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is the Detroit-based, public-private partnership between the Department of Defense, industry, and academia, committed to the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies, and implementing talent development initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit www.lift.technology or follow on LinkedIn at LIFT or on Twitter @NewsFromLIFT to learn more.

Press release from LIFT: https://lift.technology/wisconsin-national-guard-and-reserve-offered-opportunity-for-advanced-manufacturing-certification/