VAN WERT — Vantage Career Center and three institutions of higher learning have teamed up to apply for a $288,000 grant to obtain trainers for fabricated metal product manufacturing and for wood product manufacturing. The goal is help more people in the area be proficient in technology to be prepared to take on specific jobs, according to Vantage Adult Education Director Pete Prichard.

“The plan is to have this program utilized to create a pathway from certificate to an associates degree and up to a bachelor’s degree, if the student desires,” shared Prichard.

The student can take the training as far as needed for employment. Students can earn an Industrial Automation Maintenance Gainful Employment Certificate, a two-year degree in industrial technology or a four-year degree in advanced manufacturing.

For the grant, Vantage has teamed up with Northwest State Community College, Rhodes State College, and the University of Toledo. Several regional employers are also named in the application, including General Motors, Sauder Woodworking, and Northstar Blue Scope Steel.

Specific requests in the grant from the Ohio Board of Regents is funding for ten programmable controller training units at a cost of $13,500 each, six fluid power training units at a cost of $25,500 each. Each of the units would be portable and utilized on a rotating schedule to serve more than 1,250 students over the next 24 months.

Prichard reported that college credit can be earned at Vantage through use of the trainers. The idea has been in the works for many months, and Prichard said, “It almost feels like we’re coming in at the end of a marathon, which is feeling pretty good! So we’re looking forward to seeing some good things happen.”

The application was submitted on Feb. 7 by Northwest State Community College. Prichard said he expected to hear back sometime in the near future.