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A Year In Review … And On To 2018!

Richard WolinBy: Richard Wolin, Director, Training Services

Every year brings both positive accomplishments and challenging conditions and 2017 was no exception. In the spirit of continuous improvement, we reflect openly on the year by appreciating what went well and understanding what we can do better next year.

Our proudest successes relate to our core competency in helping organizations on their continuous improvement (lean) journey. Our northern Michigan Lean Learning Consortium, the first of its kind in the state, completed ten years in 2017. Through our intensive programs such as Lean Champion Certification in Manufacturing and in Office, our clients demonstrate learning with lean project boards, and 2017 resulted in 59 new Lean Champions for our community. Their success is also a reflection of the high level of staff we attract and develop at NMC Training Services. Yet we are no different than any of the local businesses and organizations we serve in the ultra-competitive environment for talent. In the last two years, we have seen several of our seasoned trainers pursue new opportunities and challenges outside of NMC. On the positive side, this keeps their outstanding talent working in this community, and with many of our clients. But it presents a new challenge to Training Services heading into 2018: a laser focus on further strengthening our current team and attracting new resources to help continue to move our clients forward and contribute to the economic health of the region.

Like any organization, sustaining lean or continuous improvement is the hardest part of the journey, especially when you lose key staff. However, we continue to invest in our team with two more newly-certified Lean Champions and two new staff members in Lean Champion training now. I’m proud to say our current team has upped their game to lean-out process touches and improve use of workplace organization and visual management, even if just out of shear necessity to keep service to our clients at the forefront. In addition, we are improving our connection to training partners by bringing on several new contract resources and rethinking our relationship with these local experts.

On the funding side, we continue to bring Michigan New Job Training Program contracts to northwest Michigan with an additional $1 million in 2017, and we work with partners like Networks Northwest to deliver training included in Skilled Trades Training Fund contracts. These are funding opportunities for training that help small- to medium-sized employers develop and maintain the skills of their employees, resulting in a stronger, more competitive local economy.

Networking resource continued to be a strong focus in 2017 with record setting attendance for the August Michigan Lean Conference at Hagerty Conference Center. Our Grand Traverse Area Manufacturing Council increased membership by 102 percent, and the March Manufacturing Summit attracted 26 percent additional attendees. Manufacturing Supplier Day in June also experienced increased attendance by 90 percent. The October Manufacturing Day enjoyed a 22 percent increase in participation for Manufacturers and a 2 percent increase in student participation despite a last-minute cancellation of one school. Losing a key school prompted process changes to avoid miscommunication in the future. The Manufacturing Council also assumed responsibility for planning a benefit golf outing that supports the TBA-ISD Manufacturing Academy and was successful with 104 in attendance and raised a record $7,733 to benefit manufacturing programs.

Several additional focus areas for 2018 include:

  • Improving the traceability of impacts our clients experience from our training and project work.
  • Updating our Lean Learning Consortium monthly events to improve applicability to our increasingly sophisticated lean users.
  • Implementing a 5S workplace organization system for electronic files.

Overall, it was a year of moving forward and continuing to improve even when faced with challenges, both anticipated and unexpected. Challenges make us better and personally the process of writing this was a good exercise to see all that we accomplished both with our clients and internally. I hope your 2017 was at least as good and I wish all a healthy and successful 2018.

Happy New Year!

Richard Wolin, Director of Training Services
MMTC-North Region at Northwestern Michigan College
1701 East Front Street; Traverse City, MI 49686
(231) 995-2003

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