Pioneer Human Services Manufacturing Academy Provides a Chance for Change

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Pioneer Human Services offers a 10-week, pre-apprenticeship Manufacturing Academy to men and women with criminal histories who are interested in developing basic skills in manufacturing and safety to better position themselves for entry-level careers. Participants must be graduates from Pioneer’s four and a half week Roadmap to Success job readiness training program before applying for the manufacturing program.

Recently, the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee newsletter included a story on one of Pioneer’s graduates and current employees, Tabitha Stokes. The story was printed as follows:

Pioneer Human Services’ “Manufacturing Academy” Provides a Chance for Change

A chance for change – four words Tabitha Stokes rarely heard growing up in Evansville, Indiana. Her life was less than ordinary, and in talking with her, it was apparent Tabitha was missing a positive figure in her life, a mentor. Mentorship has been a vital aspect of aerospace and manufacturing for decades – from on-the-job training (OJT) to classroom instruction.

Tabitha was released from prison and put on work release in October 2013. She was determined to get her life back on-track as a contributing member of society, using Pioneer Human Services’ (PHS) job readiness training programs. She first completed PHS’ four-week Roadmap to Success class and quickly moved in to the Manufacturing Academy (MA) – an accredited curriculum created by the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC). MA is a 10-week pre-apprenticeship program that helps individuals develop the basic skills in manufacturing and safety to better position them for entry-level careers.

Competing in the manufacturing industry today can be a challenge – particularly for those individuals who lack the skills and resources to get trained and hired. PHS’ Manufacturing Academy immediately opened the doors for Tabitha to turn her life around, “I realized that I need to make a change in my life and not do what I had done in the past. I knew that I enjoyed building things and working with my hands,” Tabitha said. “I know this is a field I can advance in that will never run out of work.”

The MA instructors are the backbone of the program – pushing every student to succeed both academically and through OJT. Tabitha’s motivating factor to complete the class was James Steele. Stokes commented, “Hands down. James was our instructor for most of the class, and he pushed us whenever he saw that we doubted ourselves. He was always there to help us make sure that we completed our assignments.” She added, “He kept us on our toes and never let us try to pity ourselves or think less of ourselves. He is an awesome instructor and I thank him for my successes.”

Success doesn’t come easy for people re-entering civilian life. According to two studies, there are 700,000* people released from prison each year, with only 45%** employed eight months after being released.

The Manufacturing Academy enabled Tabitha to use a variety of tools, cutting-edge technology and in-class theory to develop her manufacturing acumen.  “I had a lot of fun welding and using the Plasma cutter. For our final project we built a metal tool box using blueprint readings with multiple drawings and 3D pictures,” Tabitha said. She persevered through the final project and even lent a helping hand. “I didn’t think I would be able to do the drawings but I actually did really well. I helped other students with their drawings and as a result, I gained a lot of self-confidence with this class,” she added.

For aspiring females, particularly those who recently got out of prison, Tabitha encourages them to never give up, “Don’t doubt yourself. If you try something and fail, then who cares? Don’t give up and don’t settle – nothing worth having comes easy.”

Shortly after completing the Manufacturing Academy, Tabitha was hired on as a Production Assistant at Pioneer Human Services, where her road to a rewarding career began. Tabitha plans on pursuing AJAC’s four-year Machining (Aircraft-Oriented) apprenticeship program, with the same level of hard work and determination to work in the manufacturing industry.

*  According to the Department of Justice
** According to

Friday, September 26, 2014