For Carmeuse Americas Calcite Operations, teaching new skills has made a difference to their operations. One of the world’s leading manufacturers in limestone and limestone products, Carmeuse hires specialized and general workers for their quarry operations.
Since 2017, Calcite has hired 40+ new employees as a result of retirements and/or additional positions, resulting in about 50% of their workforce having 5 years or less "on the job" experience. Unfortunately, due to Covid-related loss in business/sales contracts, Carmeuse has had to reduce training budgets. Although they’ve been very creative with finding low-cost or free, vendor provided trainings to help keep employees moving forward, those options are limited. They’ve recently introduced multiple (non-registered) apprenticeship opportunities (with tuition reimbursement) and other pay increase incentives to provide continuous learning options - however, when already working 50+ hours per week, most employees don't have the time to go back to school (even online).
With the work schedule being what it is for Carmeuse employees, they’ve learned that condensed, hands-on, job specific, and directly applicable trainings provide the most value to their employees. Not only do these trainings provide the skillsets needed to increase productivity, the new skills also help employees pass competency tests which result in higher wages. Unfortunately, these types of trainings are costly and with an already limited training budget, assistance from the Going PRO Talent Fund was Carmeuse’s only chance at being able to offer these trainings in 2021.
With the help of Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium, Carmeuse Lime & Stone was awarded $39,960 in Going PRO Training Funds to train 26 existing employees. Training included: Hydraulics & Bearing Maintenance (AIS), Electrical Master's Prep (Alpena Community College), CAT Trainer Certification (Caterpillar), MDOT Aggregate Certification (Ferris State University), QUAQC (Ferris State University), and Welding (Industrial Arts Institute).
Local training provider Industrial Arts Institute (IAI) was able to offer a specialized four day training program to fit Carmeuse’s specific needs.
“It means a lot that IAI is willing to offer us training specific to our needs and at a time that works for our operation,” states Carmeuse’s HR Generalist Erika Comerford. “The team was blown away by the chance to learn from Tom Moran. His experience and depth of knowledge added so much value to their experience.”
IAI’s Executive Director Tammy Ward hopes other employers will take advantage of the Going PRO Talent Fund to pay for the training.
“The purpose of the Going Pro Talent Fund grant is to support employers’ efforts to train their current workforce,” Ward said. “As employers face mounting challenges sourcing and hiring workers – all workers, not just welders – these funds provide them with additional incentive to take advantage of training programs like ours.”
Caleb Rhode is one of the Carmeuse employees who received welding training thanks to the Going PRO funding. Caleb’s upbeat attitude and eagerness to learn made him a great candidate for the training, and he had high praises for the program after its completion.
When asked to summarize his experience, Caleb responded, “I was able to do a lot of different things; I pretty much had access to anything I wanted.”
He learned to air arch, stick/TIG/MIG weld, and even how to solder hydraulic lines.
“They even brought an old backhoe in for us to air arch apart and then weld back together. It was great!”
He liked how he was able to work with a variety of metals - “New steel, old steel, rusted, painted…a bunch of stuff”.
He also liked how they were able to experiment with welding in a variety of positions such as overhead, in tight spaces, and other awkward positions (applicable to the real work environment).
“Tom (Moran) is an excellent teacher”, said Caleb. “He showed us anything we wanted and didn’t care about us using materials. I was able to try a lot of things that I would have never been able to otherwise”.
Caleb reports, “I feel a lot more confident now. I had welded before this class, but not very much. I still have a lot to learn and would love to go back, but I have a lot more confidence in my welding skills now than I did before I took the class”.
Caleb was very grateful for the opportunity provided by the Going PRO Talent Fund and has been able to be a stronger contributor at Carmeuse as a result of his new skills.