Marion County has nearly 1,000 manufacturing companies providing an average starting hourly wage of $16/hour, more than 20 percent higher than Indiana’s family sustaining wage. The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation has awarded Conexus Indiana a $350,000 grant to train and place residents in these opportunity jobs and to help fill the nearly 10,000 advanced manufacturing job openings in and around Marion County.

Today’s announcement is the first step in Conexus Indiana’s mission to bring its proven career training program to Marion County residents and create pathways for employment and career growth with local manufacturers. Conexus Indiana’s program, Catapult Indiana, is available in five communities around Indiana and has placed on average 85 percent of its graduates in advanced manufacturing jobs.  

“As employers, advanced manufacturers offer Marion County residents rewarding work making everything from life-changing pharmaceuticals to the latest jet engines, while offering a crucial pathway to economic prosperity for families,” said Claire Fiddian-Green, president and CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation. “Catapult Indiana is a proven program that prepares  adults for good and promising jobs, contributing to our mission to advance the vitality of Indianapolis and the well-being of its people.”

Catapult Indiana, a 160-hour advanced manufacturing training program, teaches broadly applicable advanced manufacturing skills to unemployed and underemployed adults and graduating high school students. In Marion County, students will receive a stipend during training while participating in classroom instruction and simulated work experiences. Students are introduced to key advanced manufacturing and logistics principles, with a focus on developing critical thinking skills, a superior work ethic and an understanding of production processes and expectations. Each of these skills is key to entry-level employment as well as career growth.

“Manufacturing and logistics industries, whatever their size, are always looking for ways to develop a talent pipeline, with both hard and soft skills at all levels, but particularly at entry level,” said Mark J. Linville, Global Defense – Planning & Control executive, Rolls-Royce. “Indiana is the Crossroads of America and still many young people leave high school with a misunderstanding of the industry and the opportunities that it offers, right in our back yard. Catapult offers these graduating high school students, as well as unemployed or underemployed Hoosiers, a basic understanding of manufacturing and logistics. It not only teaches them the physical skills required, but also the ‘why’ of what they are doing. Through this they understand the importance of their role and how every job is critical to the ongoing viability of the company.”

“Job seekers and career changers are often more successful with additional short-term, quality training that enables them to skill up quickly,” said Angela Carr Klitzsch, president and CEO of EmployIndy. “Catapult can provide quick access to quality jobs for more than 30,000 workers currently seeking employment in Marion County.”

As part of its mission to reach underserved and under-represented populations, Catapult Indiana partners with community, education and industry stakeholders in regions that have above average manufacturing intensity and high unemployment. These partners help recruit Catapult students and offer additional wraparound services, such as transportation, childcare and complementary workforce programs, to ensure student success.

“Not only does the advanced manufacturing sector pay well above the family standard of living, but it offers health and retirement benefits and is one of the few sectors that promotes from within, offering a true career ladder for those with less than a four-year college education,” said Brad Rhorer, chief talent programs officer with Conexus Indiana. “We are grateful to the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation for supporting Catapult Indiana’s expansion to Marion County. With an unemployment rate hovering near 6 percent and 25 percent of the adult population with incomes near the poverty level, Catapult offers Marion County residents a bridge to economic mobility.”

In Marion County, Conexus Indiana is partnering with Dove Recovery House, Fathers and Families, Dress for Success, EmployIndy and the Immigrant Welcome Center. Conexus Indiana also is collaborating with Ivy Tech Community College, which will provide classroom space and offer Catapult graduates free post-secondary credits, and with Conexus Indiana industry partners such as Rolls-Royce, Cummins and Allison Transmission.

Catapult training classes are expected to begin in June 2021. For more information about Catapult training, contact Robert McQuern at Conexus, RMcQuern@Conexusindiana.com.