Chicago lowdown

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Indiana Maufacturers Association implements employer-driven education initiative

first_imgIndianapolis, In. — The Indiana Manufacturers Association (IMA) today launched an employer-driven education initiative to ensure a pipeline of highly skilled workers will be available to meet the needs of Indiana’s manufacturing industry. The initiative builds on the state’s efforts to help students pursue career and technical education and to help employers establish a pipeline of talent.The Indiana Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education (INFAME) will work with regional manufacturers and educational institutions to implement dual-track training that includes both classwork and hands-on training. When students complete the course they will earn an associate degree that can move seamlessly to a bachelor’s degree program and will have two years of relevant, paid job experience that they can take immediately to the workplace.“INFAME is a natural compliment to the recommendations of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet and Governor Holcomb’s 2019 workforce agenda,” said Brian Burton, President and CEO of the IMA. “Our manufacturing base is critical to the state’s economic success, and this initiative will not only serve manufacturers, but also help more Hoosiers find successful and rewarding careers in the industry.”The nationally-recognized FAME model currently operates in nine states. In Indiana, local FAME chapters will give businesses the chance to work with the IMA on education programs that meet their specific needs. Higher education partners such as Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University will provide tailored associate degree programs that will allow students to move into bachelor’s degree programs if they choose.“Toyota is excited to partner with the Indiana Manufacturers Association in launching the FAME model in Indiana to address the needs of our manufacturing industry,” said Millie Marshall, President of Toyota Manufacturing Indiana, Inc. “The FAME program has a track record of developing a pipeline of the highly skilled workers who are excellent problem solvers and creating opportunities for participants to jumpstart their careers.”INFAME will start by offering an Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program. The AMT curriculum includes electricity, fluid power, motor controls, maintenance of industrial equipment, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), welding, machining, drawings, robotics and troubleshooting. Students are also equipped with personal development skills such as attendance, communication, innovation, teamwork, and interpersonal relations. In addition to classwork, students will get practical work experience at an area manufacturer. AMT also teaches students safety culture, workplace organization, lean manufacturing, machinery maintenance and reliability and problem solving. In the future, employers who participate in the program can tailor educational programs to their specific needs.“This initiative allows those of us in manufacturing to have direct input on developing the skills we need in our future employees,” said Matt Linville, HR Director at Zimmer Biomet, and a member of both the IMA Board of Directors and the INFAME Board of Directors. “The opportunity to build on the AMT and other workforce offerings through INFAME is exciting, and will offer Indiana manufacturers the flexibility they need to keep pace with the changing demands of the industry.”More information can be found at http://www.indianafame.com.last_img read more

Food prices put bite on wallets

first_imgBy next year, it could be 56 cents. The forces behind the rise in food prices – China’s economic boom, a growing biofuels industry and a weak U.S. dollar – are global and not letting up anytime soon. Grocery receipts are bulging because the raw ingredients, packaging and fuel that go into the price of foodstuffs cost more than they have in decades. It’s the worst bout of food inflation since 1990 but not yet worrisome to the economy, said John Lonski, chief economist of Moody’s Investor Service. While high food prices can cut into consumers’ discretionary spending, the 4 percent rate of food inflation is still far below the crippling double-digit levels of the 1970s. Still, consumers anxious for relief in the checkout line may have to keep waiting. Andrea Williams, 32, can track the rise in prices of the food she buys for herself, her husband and their three children by looking back at the receipts she says she meticulously saves. “In 2004, I bought a gallon of milk, it was $1.63,” Williams said before heading into a Wal-Mart in Savoy, Ill., about 140 miles south of Chicago. A gallon of milk cost nearly $3 a gallon last month in her area. A couple of years ago, Williams would spend about $250 a month on one big grocery trip. Now she says she’s spending $250 on big trips every two weeks. It’s possible to trace the jump in food costs to the commodities markets, where the price of agriculture products and energy have reached multidecade highs this year. Crude oil, which helps dictate the price of gasoline and plastic packaging, hit an all-time high in September. Wheat prices also climbed to a record. The increase in commodity prices has as much to do with short-term supply and demand in each market as with long-term shifts in who produces and consumes those products. China is the juggernaut. Rapid growth there – and in Brazil, Russia, India and other developing nations – has led to massive demand for raw materials, including energy to run factories and cars, metals to build infrastructure, and beans and grains to feed livestock and people. China will import almost 50 percent of the world’s oilseeds within a decade, becoming the world’s largest importer, according to estimates from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Oils made from oilseeds such as soybeans are used widely in packaged foods, while corn is used to make high fructose corn syrup, a ubiquitous sweetener found in everything from soda to bread. China’s oilseed demand reflects another trend: The world is using more of its food supply to make fuel. Corn in the U.S. and China is being converted to ethanol, a gasoline additive. Europe is using more wheat for ethanol and rapeseed for biodiesel, a cleaner burning fuel that is mixed with regular diesel. Brazil has bulked up its production of sugarcane to make ethanol. Demand for corn from the burgeoning ethanol industry in the U.S. helped drive corn prices to a peak earlier this year, setting in motion a domino effect of price increases through the food chain as livestock raisers, food makers and retailers tried to recover costs. Corn prices have come off their high due to expectations for a huge crop this year, but prices remain historically elevated because of inflation across the agriculture market. A bushel of corn that went for about $2 a couple of years ago costs about $3.50 today. Higher commodity costs have led Kellogg Co., General Mills Inc., Kraft Foods Inc. and others to hike prices this year. Kellogg boosted prices 5 percent in April based on weight; in June, General Mills shrunk cereal package sizes in a way that had the effect of lifting prices. Starbucks Corp. decided to charge more for lattes and other drinks to cover its milk costs. “Ethanol got us started down this line, but other things moved to the forefront,” said Darrel Good, professor of agricultural economics at the University of Illinois. This year, such shifts in demand have met with shorter-term supply constraints to exacerbate the inflation. Because the markets for raw materials are often linked – both across geography and with each other – problems in one market can spread to another. In addition, a weaker U.S. dollar has raised foreign demand for commodities, which appear cheaper to buyers abroad. The greenback tumbled earlier this month to an all-time low against the euro. “All along the chain, you’re seeing price inflation,” said Standard & Poor’s Chief Economist David Wyss. “It’s a significant impact on food prices, but it takes a long time to show up.” High commodity prices tend to trickle slowly down to the consumer as growers, food manufacturers, distributors and retailers each swallow a portion of the added cost before passing a chunk of it on to the consumer. But with costs up for more than a year, the trickle-down process is under way. The Labor Department reports food inflation is running at 4.2 percent annually – twice the rate of overall inflation. Nationwide, milk prices are up 18 percent since the start of the year, while eggs cost 35 percent more than they did a year ago. The USDA estimates overall food price inflation will run 3 percent to 4 percent in 2008. The big picture, at least in the U.S., is that higher food prices don’t hurt like before. Today, about 8.5 percent of the American household budget goes to food at home, down from an average of 19 percent of the total budget in 1960, Wyss said. While food inflation is high, it’s not hyperinflation, he said. But it’s enough for some shoppers to notice and alter their habits.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SHOPPING: Rising costs of fuel, packaging and crops have some consumers cutting back. By Lauren Villagran THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK – This morning, your bowl of cereal and milk probably cost you 49 cents. Last year, it was 44 cents. last_img read more