There are nearly 1,000 job openings in St. Joseph, mostly in maintenance and manufacturing positions. Valor Education Group aims to close the unskilled workforce gap by working with employers of in-house training programs.

With the goal of solving the local skills gap, a new company has stepped forward with a solution for St. Joseph.

Valor Education Group is working with local employers to meet their workforce training needs. There are currently about 1,000 job openings in the maintenance and manufacturing industry locally. It’s a topic that hasn’t gone unnoticed. State and federal funding has become available for employers’ training needs, and companies like Valor are stepping forward to help.

“The sheer numbers alone just has forced us on how are we going to solve this issue,” said Lute Atieh with Valor Education Group. “It’s not just an issue of jobs, it’s an issue of our community and making our community more attractive for people to live because there are jobs.”

Valor is developing training that is assisted by the companies needing employees, and it allows the companies to bring training in-house.

“Essentially, a company can hire somebody with no experience in a particular field and the company has the means and the tools to train them while they are doing their on-the-job training. It’s a more formal process this way.”

Atieh said Valor provides companies the tools to implement training without hiring their own learning directors and having their own learning management systems.

“We have the curriculum, the content,” he said. “It’s all interactive, engaging. We host it all and we just teach the company how to administer this to their new staff or staff that want to move up in the company.”

The programs are web-based and interactive for computers or tablets. Creating the types of needed programs can be a large expense for companies to do on their own.

“By using this tool and by providing input on what’s working and not working, they can hone it in,” Atieh said. “The ultimate goal here is to build a tool that your potential new hire takes this assessment and you can determine with reasonable certainty if they will be really good at this type of manufacturing job.”

The high volume of job openings in St. Joseph could be hindering the community’s future growth.

“If you’re a company thinking about starting up or moving your plant to St. Joe, what’s the first thing you’re going to look at?” Atieh said. “We have 1,000 open jobs in manufacturing and that’s a problem, so we need to bring that down. This is a solution that’s going to help these companies take control of the issue.”

Since the company is building as it goes, the plan is to roll out the program at the beginning of the year. Valor is meeting with new companies every week to incorporate as much feedback from employers as possible. If the program works to address the local skills gap, Atieh said Valor will move out into other regions, possibly nationwide.

“We have identified six hot spots other than the Midwest where this will roll out,” he said. “It’s going to take all of us. It’s going to take the schools, companies, the workforce.”

BERKS Group is the majority owner of Valor Education Group. BERKS and several of its officers are executives with NPG Newspapers Inc., the parent company of the St. Joseph News-Press and News-Press Now TV.

For more information, call 816-749-2806.

Jenn Hall can be reached

at jenn.hall@newspressnow.com.

Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPHall.