Grant funds knowledge- and skills-based training

Chris Anderson

MINNEAPOLIS—A unique, trilateral job-training program joining the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP), the Dunwoody Institute and FSI International will provide FSI with the resources over the next two years to hire and train cleanroom workers as the company ramps up production to meet rising demand.

The $400,000 grant from MJSP funds the creation of 52 training modules for both production and engineering workers in FSI's surface conditioning division (SCD).

“The grant benefits us in many ways,” says Eric Askegaard, SCD operations manager. “First, since it is computer based, it allows us to begin training new employees on their first day on the job. It also prevents us from pulling other workers off their jobs to train them.”

The 52 training modules provide both knowledge and skills-based training and take employees from the most basic procedures in cleanroom production, such as controlling electrostatic discharge, to specialized training based on FSI's particular manufacturing requirements for production in the areas of surface conditioning, microlithography and spin-on-dielectrics.

The company will use the program to train its current workforce of 250 in the SCD as well as the nearly 200 new workers expected to join the company in the next two years.

For MJSP, providing the funds in a cooperative training venture between a private business and a local school makes sense on many fronts, says Executive Director Roger Hughes. “In order to qualify for a grant, a program must make an impact on the business receiving it, make an impact on the individual receiving the training and make an impact on the educational institution that develops the training program,” he says.

Developing the training modules for FSI is not necessarily a benefit to the school's bottom line, says John Miller, vice president of business and industry services at Dunwoody Institute. “We are not making money on this as we will bill only what our expenses are to create the program,” Miller says. “But the real benefit to us is the method of delivering the modules in an online environment, a first for Dunwoody.”

The experience Dunwoody gains in providing the FSI courses will help it provide some of its classes via the Internet in the future and in turn widens the school's reach, Miller notes.

This is exactly the kind of impact the folks at MJSP envisioned for the grant. “Beyond the individual benefits to the workers, Dunwoody and FSI, we hope that when businesses consider where to locate, they will notice how our funding has improved the educational infrastructure and our ability to work with companies to provide them with the trained workers they need,” says Hughes.

Chris Anderson is a freelance business journalist in Portland, ME.


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