John Jay Center for Learning launches SkillsTrac Adult State Earn and Learn (SEAL) program

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John Jay Center for Learning launches SkillsTrac Adult State Earn and Learn (SEAL) program

INDIANAPOLIS (July 14, 2021) – John Jay Center for Learning in Portland, Indiana launched its SkillsTrac training program as a certified Adult State Earn and Learn (SEAL) program on July 14, 2021. 

The SkillsTrac program is an industrial training program designed with and supported by local manufacturing companies. The program has strong industry support and partnerships with manufacturers throughout Jay, Blackford, Wells, and Adams counties, along with added involvement from companies in Ohio. 

The program consists of five levels of study, all independent of each other. Companies can send employees for training on individual levels, have employees complete a combination of levels, or have employees complete the whole program based on company needs. The program is competency-based which allows employees to complete the levels at their own pace within a defined amount of time. 

The lab is open during the day and on select evenings during the week. This flexibility allows employees to train around their work schedule. 

“Since this program started in 2017-18, the main goal was to work with industry and create a deeper talent pool for regional manufacturers. By partnering with the end user to create and deliver quality education and training, we are enabling students to better their lives financially and positively contribute to the communities in which they work and live. We are succeeding in our mission and lives are being changed through our work,” said Rusty Inman, director of the John Jay Center for Learning.

A breakdown of the SEAL program includes:

  • White Level – Introductory Lathe and Mill classes; Introductory Welding
  • Yellow Level – Pneumatics, Hydraulics, and Electrical Wiring
  • Green Level – Safety, Materials, Fasteners, Mechanics
  • Red Level – Machines, Relays, and Programmable Logic Controls (PLC)
  • Blue Level – Servos, Automation, and Robotics

“The John Jay Center for Learning and the SkillsTrac program are an exemplary model of a program built and supported by area industry. Rusty and his team have collaborated with the key stakeholders in the area to build a program that meets the needs of not only the industries in and around Portland, but the people of Portland and the community,” said Claire Berger, regional director of the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship (OWBLA). “In my experience, this doesn’t happen very often. Having been involved in the process prior to my current role with OWBLA, I know the hard work and dedication that went into this program. Years of discussions with stakeholders, planning for the development of the lab space, and finding the right resources has resulted in an extremely strong, flexible program. The SkillsTrac SEAL program should be held up as a model for effective adult training around industrial maintenance. I am proud to certify this program as a State Earn and Learn.”

Quality instructors are crucial for the success of programs like the SkillsTrac certified SEAL. Not only is Richard Hainey a skilled instructor, but he also helped build the SkillsTrac program. 

Region 6 SEAL

“The SkillsTrac Industrial Maintenance program was developed to provide a blend of online classroom training and substantial hands-on lab experience for incumbent maintenance workers wishing to ‘upskill,’ and for those people who want a career in Industrial Maintenance and Automation,” said Hainey. “It begins with hand skills and completes with automation, from how to use measuring tools to programming robots and touchscreens … Classes and labs are self-paced in this competency-based program. Students graduate when competent to perform tasks rather than on a specified date. It is very satisfying to watch students’ confidence levels rising as they go through this training.”

Business partners have expressed their support for the John Jay Center for Learning’s SkillsTrac program. 

Joe Acker, plant manager of Tyson Mexican Originals, praised the program: “There’s a labor shortage that’s been out there a long time, and that labor shortage resides around skilled trades in maintenance and industrial maintenance in our community and nationwide. We are very fortunate here to have a program through the John Jay Center for Learning and their industrial maintenance training program that has provided us the opportunity to put together a very good apprenticeship program … So far to date in the two years we have had this program in place, 15 of our 36 maintenance tradesmen have come through the John Jay Center for Learning program. It’s a tremendous program that has helped us to be successful.”

Dean Jetter, COO of Fort Recovery Industries, said, “U.S. Manufacturing is on the move, but this skills gap is a problem. Technology is going to keep advancing, and automation is going to keep advancing. The costs of this type of equipment are large and you can’t afford to have them down because of the amount of investment, plus meeting your customer’s needs. What we do is utilize the (SkillsTrac) courses that are taught at John Jay. We have our apprentices go there to get certain pieces or the whole body of knowledge that they need to get.”

Participants also value the programs. 

“The SkillsTrac program is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who is looking at getting into Industrial Maintenance or wanting to expand their training. The equipment you train with is the same equipment used by local employers, and you are taught by an instructor who has several decades of real-world knowledge working in the industry. Employers recognize the quality of the training provided through the SkillsTrac program, and with the knowledge I received, I had the opportunity to start at above entry level pay,” said participant Alex Davis.

Since its inception in 2018, the SkillsTrac program has seen a steady growth in participants.  Currently there are 42 employees and individuals participating in at least one level of the program. Those participants coming to the program on their own have been successfully placed with area employers. 

The placement rate for these individuals currently stands at 86.9 percent. Participants who chose to go on to higher education can be awarded crosswalk credit for the SkillsTrac program from Wright State University, Indiana Tech, and Ivy Tech Community College.  

Certified State Earn and Learn programs are Indiana’s state-level pre-apprenticeships. They are designed to deliver work and learn experience for participants along with the skills and certifications that employers value. SEAL programs are geared toward both adult and youth populations, and they satisfy Indiana’s new graduation pathway requirements. SEAL programs are state-certified through the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship (OWBLA), which is part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Next Level Agenda.

OWBLA works with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, education providers, employers, community and labor organizations, and Regional Workforce Development Boards to develop programs across Indiana. For more information about SEAL programs, please visit or contact the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship at



About the Indiana Department of Workforce Development
DWD serves the worker and the employer to ensure workplace success. DWD is committed to innovating and invigorating Indiana’s economic future by providing WorkOne Career Centers, Unemployment Insurance, Labor Market Information, Regional Workforce Strategies and Professional Training. Through these services, DWD is able to develop a premier workforce that enables Indiana employers to flourish and entices businesses from outside our state to relocate to Indiana.

About the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship
The Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship, located within the Department of Workforce Development and part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s NextLevel Agenda, serves to develop and implement a framework of work-based learning pathways for both youth and adult populations with a concentration on certified State Earn and Learn (SEAL) and U.S. DOL Registered Apprenticeship programs.

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