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Having enough workers with the skills needed to operate increasingly sophisticated machines and grasp efficiency concepts is important to diversifying the economy in Indiana’s Elkhart County, but there’s a more pressing immediate need as recreational vehicle makers hustle to meet booming demand.

As reported by the Elkhart Truth, the Ivy Tech Community College North Central/Northwest Chancellor Thomas Coley said employers in general are telling him they are more interested in a focus on “soft” skills, such as showing up on time, working hard and communication skills, particularly for youths coming right out of high school. Basic safety, reading and math are common across industries.

In addition, the RV industry is asking for teamwork, basic skills such as measurement, hand tools and jig use, along with quality control and following assembly instruction.

After trying unsuccessfully this year to raise money from area employers for the Elkhart campus’s proposed World Class Lean Advanced Manufacturing Training Center, Coley recently said he’s had to recast his vision. The school has changed the proposal’s name to, simply, the Center for Workforce Training.

Coley first announced plans for the center in July 2012, when the school bought 43 acres behind its existing Elkhart campus for a proposed $15 million, 55,000-square-foot facility. Mervin D. Lung, former owner of RV and manufactured housing supplier Patrick Industries, had offered $4.5 million as a challenge grant for the community to match.

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