HERRIN – In the unsure shadow cast by impending layoffs and news that city officials are questioning various potential uses for the closing Maytag-Whirlpool facility in Herrin, some plant employees are showing interest in retraining incentives offered by the federal government and are looking to Rend Lake College as the vehicle to meet their new career goals.
The college has set up shop in the Family Opportunity Center, located inside the plant, to showcase the numerous programs offered at RLC and provide placement testing to those who are interested in obtaining valuable educational credit toward the path to a new career.
A dozen employees met with RLC STARS Director Ed Ruffino on Oct. 26 at the plant. Ruffino was at the Maytag-Whirlpool plant to assist employees in their search for the field they want to enter and will continue to meet with employees on Thursdays. He and RLC Workforce Investment Act Coordinator Paula Myers are combining efforts to offer Maytag-Whirlpool employees guidance and information about RLC programs.
According to Ruffino, the Truck Driving Training program at RLC received the most interest with 10 employees who wanted information. Three employees asked about the Radiologic Technology program planned for Fall 2007 and others were interested in programs such as Coal Mining, Agriculture Mechanics, Automotive Technology, Industrial Electronics Maintenance Technician, Wireless Communications Technology, Heavy Equipment Technology, Social Work and Machining.
“It’s an opportunity for them to get retrained in a new field – maybe in something that they wanted to do before, but didn’t have the opportunity,” Ruffino said.
Man-Tra-Con – a southern Illinois management, training and consulting corporation with offices in Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson, Perry and Williamson counties – is the funding agency handling the federal retraining incentives made possible through a combination of the Workforce Investment Act and Trade Adjustment Program, according to Jamie Galli with Man-Tra-Con. The funds to assist dislocated workers are allocated to Man-Tra-Con by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
Funding is limited to 104 weeks of training and is earmarked for employees set to be separated from the Maytag-Whirlpool plant and Technicolor in Pinckneyville, Galli said. More than $2 million is available for training costs like tuition, fees, books, mileage reimbursement and daycare services, she added. The training must be in a demanded field, according to Galli. In the past, Man-Tra-Con has worked with RLC to provide dislocated workers with training in basic and intermediate computer courses.
“Myers has worked very closely with us,” Galli said.
RLC offers many programs that would suit the goals of dislocated workers looking for a career change. The first step is to meet with Ruffino and Myers or call the college Counseling Center at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1266.
For more information about this release, one may contact Myers at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1380.