Students experience unique Skilled Trades Academy

Nov 18, 2020 | Business | 0 comments

Bill Hutchisson, this year’s Ottawa County Skilled Trades Academy Instructor, is a certified MSSC CPT instructor and is an Advanced Manufacturing Training Coordinator for Custom Training Solutions, a Division of Northwest State Community College.

The Ottawa County Business Advisory Council (BAC) held an Open House recently for 11 high school seniors who were selected to participate in the second year of the Ottawa County Skilled Trades Academy (STA). Students and parents had the opportunity to check out the workshop area and program curriculum and meet with the instructor, as well as members of the BAC, despite COVID-19 issues.

When the virus swept through the entire country back in March, school districts, county offices and area employers closed their doors. There were a lot of concerns surrounding whether or not the 2020-2021 STA school year was even going to happen. In July, former STA Instructor Jim Lippert announced he would be stepping down, but would assist in any way possible to ensure the program is successful. Needless to say, the BAC had some major decisions to make quickly.

“We met with the schools on Aug. 14 and walked away from that meeting with one understanding – this is absolutely going to happen,” said BAC President Ken Williams.

After weighing several options, Northwest State Community College was put into the mix. Stephanie Kowal, Director of Job & Family Services, reached out to Northwest State Community College and explained the situation.

Kowal, the Ottawa County Improvement Corporation (OCIC) and Northwest State Community College representatives met and began putting a plan in place. Educators and business representatives of the BAC embraced the new concept and made the decision to move forward with its implementation.

“We are very excited about our new collaboration with Northwest State Community College,” commented Ken Williams. “They are experts in taking our youth, who are at high school and college levels, and advancing them into career paths.”

Bill Hutchisson, this year’s Skilled Trades Academy Instructor, is a certified MSSC CPT instructor and is an Advanced Manufacturing Training Coordinator for Custom Training Solutions, a Division of Northwest State Community College. He has spent the last six years in education, teaching both on the credit and contract sides (Industrial Electrical, Motors, Motor Controls, Robot Programming, Welding, Pipefitting, Fluid Power, Print reading, Teams, Safety and Quality).

“We specialize in multi-craft, which is where students learn how to do a little bit of everything,” said Hutchisson. “We do that to expose them to as much information as possible, because they may find something they really like doing. And if you enjoy doing it, you’re going to enjoy making money doing it,” chuckled Hutchisson. “You can make a great living today working with your hands and it is an amazing feeling.”

Guest instructors from Ohler & Holzhauer covered heating, air conditioning and plumbing at this year’s Ottawa County Skilled Trades Academy hosted by the Ottawa County Business Advisory Council.

The 2020-2021 Ottawa County Skilled Trades Academy includes virtual classroom instruction from Northwest State Community College’s Core Manufacturing & Logistics Skills (CMLS) Program curriculum and in-person hands-on lab activities in the designated workshop area that will prepare students to take the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC) Certified Production Technician (CPT) exams and assessments. Local businesses participate as “guest instructors” throughout the school year. These businesses will include Materion Brush Inc. (Production), Ohler & Holzhauer (HVAC/Plumbing), and Port Clinton Manufacturing (Precision Machining) along with several others.

The MSSC is a 501c3 non-profit, industry-led training, assessment and certification system focused on the core skills and knowledge needed by the nation’s front-line technicians. The Certified Production Technician (CPT) Certification addresses the core technical competencies of higher skilled production technicians in all sectors of manufacturing. As a part of this program, students will be awarded MSSC CPT Certificates for each of the four (4) Production Modules you successfully complete: Safety; Quality Practices & Measurement; Manufacturing Processes & Production; and Maintenance Awareness.

In addition to the MSSC CPT curriculum, students will have the opportunity to complete an OSHA 10-Hour course and receive an OSHA 10-Hour card (industry credential), along with entrepreneurship and ethics components. Additional credentials will also be offered to students throughout the year, such as forklift training and CPR certification.

Colby Pendleton, a Senior at Woodmore High School, gave his thoughts about the program. “I’m excited to learn about everything this program has to offer since high schools no longer teach classes like wood working and welding. This is a big step towards learning and developing skills I will use in my career. I’d like to work more in the construction industry.” Colby was also asked about his first day of class. “I really liked my first day, I have high hopes for this program.”

We also heard from Toni Pendleton, Colby’s mother. “He has been exposed to a lot of this already. This program was perfect because we knew he would get to dabble with several different skilled trades options while still exploring and eventually going on and doing a 2-year program at Terra or Owens.”

Colby was then asked what his plans were after he graduates. “I’m not entirely sure if I’m going to college after I graduate, but if I had to choose it would probably be Terra State Community College because it’s so close.”

This BAC initiative is funded through the generous support of the Ottawa County Community Foundation. The BAC believes that 100% of Ottawa County students should graduate from high school with a plan for their future. While Ottawa County school graduation rates are above the state average, the BAC believes that every student should graduate from high school with a solid foundation and plan for future career, college, military and/or vocational employment. The BAC aims to educate and expose Ottawa County students to the skills and continuing education needed to fill in-demand jobs in Ohio, with an emphasis on Ottawa County.

For more information about the Ottawa County Skilled Trades Academy, please visit

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