DETROIT—The Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan (WIN) is now seeking 100 civilians and companies in Metro Detroit for inclusion in the Operation Next advanced manufacturing training program.

The hybrid training, developed by LIFT, the Detroit-based Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, combines self-directed virtual learning with hands-on lab work to provide foundational knowledge, practical real-world skills, and credentials sought after in today’s labor market. 100 slots are currently open for the free training.

Established in 2018 as a program for people leaving the military at Ft. Campbell, Ky., this new civilian Operation Next initiative is made possible by a grant provided to LIFT from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). According to NIST, 2.5 million manufacturing jobs are expected to go unfilled in the next decade due to a lack of skilled and ready talent.

Participants may select one of four majors that will prepare them for some of the most in-demand manufacturing careers in the country. Operation Next offers certification opportunities in:

  • Welding
  • Computer numerical control (CNC) machining
  • Industrial technology maintenance
  • Robotics

Students earn industry-recognized, nationally portable credentials from the American Welding Society, the National Institute of Metalworking Skills, or the Smart Automation Certification Alliance.

Trainees can complete Operation Next at their own pace, combining virtual learning and hands-on skill development on industry equipment, at the LIFT center in Detroit’s Corktown, at Macomb Community College, or Henry Ford College. For employers seeking to upskill their workers, hands-on training can also be completed at their own facility.

Alicia Amey, a 33-year-old Operation Next participant from St. Clair Shores, possessed a background in administration and schooling in social work prior to starting her welding journey.

“In the past, I spent too much time watching others make career strides while wondering if a woman could succeed in welding,” said Amey. “If you’re a minority that is hesitating to enter the world of manufacturing, this is an accessible, stepping-stone program focused on opportunity and success.”

Added WIN Executive Director Michele Economou Ureste: “Since the program’s launch in late 2020, we have seen Metro Detroiters from all walks of life register for Operation Next and learn new skills that are in extremely high demand. WIN is encouraging those who may be unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic or who simply desire a new career path to explore the life-changing opportunities Operation Next has to offer.”

To start a journey with Operation Next, complete the online Jobseeker interest form or Employer Interest Form.

WIN is a collaborative effort between nine area community colleges and six Michigan Works agencies, as well as other organizations, to create a comprehensive workforce development system in southeast Michigan to provide employers with the talent they need for the region’s success. WIN covers a 16-county area—Genesee, Hillsdale, Huron, Jackson, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Sanilac, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Tuscola, Washtnaw and Wayne. More at www.wintelligence.org.

LIFT, originally called Lightweight Innovations For Tomorrow, is operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, a public-private partnership between the Department of Defense, industry, and academia. More at www.lift.technology.