LIFT gets $1M to retrain civilian manufacturing workers

DETROIT—LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, announced it has received $1 million to expand its Operation Next program to reskill and upskill civilian workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new award from the National Institute of Standards and Technology is funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It will enable LIFT to provide training to 250 workers in CNC machine operations, industrial technology maintenance, welding, and robotics, at locations in Detroit and Pittsburgh, Pa.

“We have seen this pandemic drastically impact our nation’s manufacturing base, particularly small and medium-sized manufacturers, and it is up to institutes like ours, along with our partners in the public and private sectors, to help get these businesses and their workers back on track as the nation emerges from shutdowns,” said Nigel Francis, executive director and CEO of  LIFT. “Operation Next is one of our most successful and impactful programs, and we are proud to expand it to industry.”

LIFT will engage with small and medium manufacturers through Catalyst Connection, a Pennsylvania manufacturing extension partnership, and the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan.

Launched in 2018 as a pilot program at Ft. Campbell, Ky., Operation Next is a manufacturing-focused training and credentialing initiative for people who are leaving the armed services. This marks the second expansion of Operation Next, and the first into the commercial industrial sector.  In late 2019, LIFT announced the Department of Defense would support the program’s expansion to nine new bases around the country over the next three years.

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