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Friday, February 03 2023

Innovative Training Approach Creates New Manufacturing Talent Pipeline for South Bend



Innovation Training Approach Creates New Talent Pipeline

Since 2018, the City of South Bend has partnered with Purdue Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to provide high-quality, effective training through the Pathways On-Demand Workforce Development Program. Historically, the program has focused on providing career training to incumbent workers from South Bend manufacturing companies.

Most recently, the program took a new approach and trained residents at the South Bend Community Re-Entry Center (SBCRC). This initiative allowed the Center to fulfill its mission of promoting the successful reintegration of lawful, self-sufficient, and productive citizens into the community.

Over a three-week period, residents of SBCRC participated in Purdue MEP’s Lean Manufacturing Team Member and Implementor certification program which included 56 hours of in-class training and 24 hours of participating in a Kaizen event. Upon course completion, each of the 19 participants conducted a project presentation to earn their certification.

“Every one of these men has so much to offer, and they are eager to enter the workforce and make a difference. That is what makes delivering these classes so meaningful,” states Michael Wiseman, Senior Productivity Specialist at Purdue MEP. “Working with them to apply their newly learned skills through a continuous improvement project developed, tested, and completed solely by themselves ensures the knowledge they have gained is put into action.”

The training focused on many aspects of Lean manufacturing skills including Lean principles and culture, value stream mapping, the 5S system, quick changeover, Kaizen facilitation, project management, total productive maintenance, problem-solving, and root cause analysis. Following the classroom work, participants were tested and completed a continuous improvement project focused on different areas of the SBCRC and presented their projects to an audience of over 40 guests and staff members.

“Through the Pathways Program, the City is proud to support training that helps individuals transition back into the community,” said Erik Glavich, Director of Growth and Opportunity for the City of South Bend. “The class helps participants develop skills that employers seek, and this improves Re-Entry Center residents’ prospects for finding meaningful work. It’s a win-win for both employers and the individuals completing the course.”

“We are proud of this partnership, and it is fulfilling for this team to see these men grow professionally, as well as personally,” commented Charles Bowen, Warden of the South Bend Community Re-Entry Center. “This program is a great benefit to these men, their families, local industry, and the entire community.”

Want to connect with this new talent to find out their availability for hire? Contact the South Bend Community Re-Entry Center.


Participants completing the Lean Manufacturing Team Member and Implementor program presented their final projects as a final step to earning their certification from Purdue University.


project completion

Projects focused on implementing a continuous improvement process in different areas of the South Bend Community Re-Entry Center including the Property Room and Clothing Room (shown above) in addition to a project that focused on root-cause analysis and problem-solving methods for transportation issues.


Partners with South Bend Community Re-Entry Center

Partnerships with local businesses and community programs such as the Pathways On-Demand Workforce Development Program are vital to the South Bend Community Re-Entry Center in accomplishing its goal of helping residents transition back into the community with skills to be self-sufficient and productive members of society.


About Purdue MEP: Purdue MEP provides high-value, affordable, personalized consulting and training services that enable Indiana manufacturers to work smarter, compete, and prosper. We develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth, workforce development, economic competitiveness, and greater profitability.

About the South Bend Community Re-Entry Center: As a model of public safety, the South Bend Community Re-Entry Center promotes the successful reintegration of lawful, self-sufficient, and productive citizens into the community. This is done through the thoughtful application of dynamic supervision, experienced rehabilitative programming, and by providing opportunities for residents to demonstrate a strong work ethic and civic duty to foster productive partnerships with employers and citizens in our local communities.


Writer: Julie Warner, 765-496-1200,

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