A Colorado Springs campus that trains veterans in manufacturing could soon be in the works, if Blackfox Training Institute sees enough employer interest in its program.
The Advanced Manufacturing Program for Military Veterans teaches courses geared toward the requirements of aerospace and defense manufacturing, Blackfox president and CEO Allen Dill said, and aims to boost the available local workforce by training and certifying veterans transitioning out of the military.
Dill said the “huge gap” in advanced manufacturing skills is a national problem.
Blackfox has graduated more than 200 veterans since establishing the program in 2013 in Longmont, where the institute has been headquartered for 21 years.
The aim now is to position another campus on or near one of the Springs’ military bases, with teaching to begin late this year.
Blackfox will host an event from 8-10 a.m. June 6 at Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence in Colorado Springs, to provide manufacturing employers with information about the program as well as to gauge employer interest and learn about employer needs.
Dill said the five-week, 200-hour accredited program operates at no cost to the employer or the veteran. Funding comes from federal training grants, and Blackfox is eligible for the G.I. Bill.
Jay Palace, president of Linear Manufacturing, said finding workers with manufacturing and electronic assembly skills in Colorado Springs is a challenge, and the company usually has to provide training.
A program that collaborates with manufacturers and teaches veterans the skills the industry needs could change things, Palace said.
“It would certainly put more people in the workforce that know the [skills]. I deal with engineers that don’t even know how to do any type of assembly,” he said. “They can do design, they can do software, but they don’t know how to do the hard manufacturing — actually putting the part on the board and knowing what it’s supposed to look like.”
Blackfox worked with the Colorado Department of Labor and Pikes Peak Workforce Center on the program in Longmont, and will continue those partnerships in Colorado Springs.
Dill said representatives from Fort Carson, Peterson [Air Force Base], USO Colorado Springs, Mt. Carmel, and Sen. Cory Gardner’s office expressed interest in supporting the program.
The Colorado Springs campus will take a new approach, giving soldiers the chance to train, with permission, during their 180-day transition out of the military.
“That’s our goal — to make sure by the time they transition out, they have an opportunity to go directly to work,” Dill said.
Read more about Blackfox and its upcoming event in the June 2 edition of the Colorado Springs Business Journal.