Closing the skills gap

Businesses in south-central Indiana call Columbus engineering professor Joe Fuehne on a weekly basis to see if they can hire any of his students. Most of the time, the call ends in disappointment.

Yes, Fuehne tells them, the local college has nearly 80 students completing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.

But no, he has to tell them, none of them is available to work.

Just about everybody taking classes already works full time or part time or is enrolled in a training program, said Fuehne, director and Maha Associate Professor of mechanical engineering technology at Purdue College of Technology in Columbus.

“We get requests all the time for people looking for employees that we can’t fill,” he said. “It’s actually somewhat discouraging from our perspective because we have a lot of students, and so many of them already working.”

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