Goodwill Industries of Michiana launches skilled trades training program

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 6:20 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - 16 News Now got an inside look at an academy unlike any other in the area. Instead of English and arithmetic, they’re learning about engines and automobiles.

Goodwill Industries of Michiana cut the ribbon on their new skilled trade training facility named “The Academy.” The opening of the facility comes as a sign of just how many skilled trade jobs are out there.

The only thing you have to spend on this potentially life-changing investment is your time. These community leaders and business owners aren’t just cutting the ribbon for The Academy, but they’re also cutting the financial barrier to entering into skilled trades.

“We’re just not seeing younger folks at this stage in the game really seeing the benefit of getting into some of these trades,” said Debie Coble, the president and CEO of Goodwill Michiana. “So, this is a great opportunity for them also to move into those fields and maybe make a wage better than they ever did before.”

The facility currently offers certifications in automotive and construction. While 16 News Now couldn’t find any of their four construction graduates to speak with today, there was a good reason for it.

“None of them will be here today because they’re making money,” Coble continued. “Which is good. That’s what they want them to do.”

The jobs are out there, and employers are looking to The Academy to fill those roles, even the ones that fund much of this education.

“Our total investment is $250,000,” said Mike Leep Jr., the president Gurley Leep Automotive Family. “We support a lot of education initiatives in our community, but this one is kind of special to us because, obviously, it’s a little self-serving. It’s going to develop a pool of candidates for people to work in careers in the automotive industry, which obviously benefits our customers, which is number one, benefits our dealerships, but also benefits our community and these people.”

Courses last around eight weeks, with an average time commitment between four to six hours a day.

“Entry-level technicians are between $30,000 to $40,000 a year,” Leep said. “As they build their skills, as they come in, that quickly escalates, and then when you work your way into being a master technician, you make over $100,000 a year.”

Those interested in kicking off their new career can send an email to the address: