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MCTC to Develop Training Curriculum for Local Business

MCTC partners with Minnesota Job Skills Partnership and Airtex Design Group to boost growth opportunity

MCTC Apparel Tech studentsA skilled workforce is a requirement for Minnesota businesses to grow, and Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) is working with the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) to help one local business expand. With an investment of $67,000 from Airtex Design Group (Airtex) and a $45,000 grant from MJSP, MCTC will develop and provide the training needed for Airtex to increase their capacity and create jobs now and into the future.

Founded in Minneapolis in 1918 as the Miller Bag Company, Airtex is a Minneapolis-based cut-and-sew firm specializing in home textiles with a growing clientele. In the summer of 2012, the company increased its workforce from eight production sewers to 25. Despite that increase in production staff, there is an immediate need for factory floor workers to sustain current business and pursue new opportunities. “We project the need for 20-40 additional sewers in the next three years,” said Airtex CEO Mike Miller. “The opportunity to work with MCTC for training will improve our staff skills and allow us to reach profitable production levels with new customer programs.”

Though Minneapolis has a legacy in the textile industry, most of the industry, training resources and workforce disappeared as production shifted overseas. Demand for production workers—including custom sewers—saw a 300% increase from 2011 to 2012 but Minneapolis businesses had more difficulty finding qualified workers than the national average. “The demand for high-quality, Minnesota-made products is now so strong that local companies are desperate to hire industrial sewers,” said Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak. “This demand has spurred an exciting new initiative with Minnesota’s Makers Coalition, which includes companies like Airtex Design Group and J.W. Hulme leather goods.”

The partnership between MCTC and Airtex is the perfect fit for MJSP’s mission to provide training grants that offset training-related expenses necessary to meet current and future workforce needs. MJSP works strategically with businesses and educational institutions to train or retrain workers, expand work opportunities and keep high-quality jobs in the state.

“MCTC will develop curriculum that serves a growing cut-and-sew industry sector in the Twin Cities and complements MCTC’s existing Apparel Technologies degree program,” said Victoria Lauing, a customized training director at MCTC. “By developing industry relationships with companies like Airtex, MCTC is increasing the potential for creating career pipelines and internship opportunities for MCTC students and graduates.”

Photo: Students in the MCTC Apparel Technologies program graduate with the skills to pursue careers like those at Airtex Design Group.