Success Stories - Customized Training

A Track Record of Success through Customized Training Services

We provide a one-stop solution to connect businesses and communities with the workforce education needed to build the careers for today and tomorrow. Our track record of accomplishments include training in many key sectors of the Minnesota economy, including business services, manufacturing and technology.


HTC Customized Training Solutions & MPMA Partnership Grant

BROOKLYN PARK—Hennepin Technical College is proud to announce being awarded a $350,000, 3-year grant from DEED’s Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) Program in partnership with the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association (MPMA).  Previously, we were awarded a Pre-Development grant to develop this new academy-model and this funding will allow us to fully launch the model.  The goal of this project is to enable local manufacturing employers to hire new talent who have minimal or no manufacturing experience.

Steve Kalina, President of MPMA, said this program will enable employers to partner more closely with HTC.  “MPMA is excited to partner with Hennepin Tech on this revolutionary new training program.  Manufacturers need to play a greater role in the skills development of workers, and rather than asking the schools to work in a silo, we are asking manufacturers to step up to the plate to partner for much more collaborative training,” said Kalina.

Over the next three years, nearly 50 new people will enter the manufacturing sector by passing through the four-phase project.  Many of them will enter the program with little to no manufacturing experience or expertise and are coming from other industries with lower pay or even may be unemployed.  Their journey will include the following phases:

Phase One: Pre-Training:

To provide more consistent training and pace of the academy, it’s important that all individuals arrive at HTC having some similar skillsets and basics of knowledge. The pre-training phase makes use of the Titans of CNC: Academy for online learning and applications that are engaging, easy to follow and create a baseline that the student, mentor and HTC instructors can all follow. During this phase, the student will be introduced to CNC milling and lathe fundamentals, basic programming, and blueprint reading. The intent is that all students arriving at HTC can speak some of the same industry language and have a basic understanding of machining. This phase may take only a few weeks for someone that has more experience and can learn quickly. It may take a few months for someone with no experience. In the end, it gets them to the same starting point for Phase Two.

Phase Two:

The Academy will be made of cohorts that are up to 16 individuals each. There may be up to three cohorts that begin each year. They will be comprised of an eight person milling group and an eight person turning group. Of those, the groups will be broken in two groups each of four trainees to allow for a team approach and better support from the instructor and tracking with Titans of CNC: Academy.  Phase two is the first month of their time at Hennepin Tech with a customized approach to CNC training. This will be more of hands-on introduction to machining where they’ll spend many more hours at the machine. Because Titans of CNC: Academy gave them an introduction and basics, the HTC instructor can now dive right into hands-on practical applications. Trainees will receive safety training, introduction to inspection and begin running machines. They will continue to use Titans of CNC: Academy for project work because this program allows them to carry-out projects under the guidance of both HTC and their employer/mentor.

Phase Three:

Phase three is the majority of the program, or about eight months. Where phase two is an introduction to machining, phase three is primarily made of project and application work. Through both HTC and Titans of CNC: Academy, the trainees are focused on testing out theories, practicing proper techniques, and making parts. The groups will split into their respective focus on milling or turning as well as skill level teams within those groups.

Phase Four:

This begins to prepare them for official “return to work.” As the trainees wrap up their project and applications work, they take a higher level focus on what it means to be a good machinist. Not just better at running machines, but what it means to solve problems, be a better team player, and over-all better employee. They will receive industry training on automation, leadership, lean, advanced inspection, training and change culture. It will make the graduates of this Academy much more well-balanced and highly respected/sought after individuals. They will not only know how to make better products, but help make better companies.

After the Academy:

Once the trainees graduate from the Academy, this is just the start of their career progression. Most companies will still consider them an Apprentice machinist. What was developed with the business prior to sending a trainee to the Academy will be a multi-year training progression which allows continued support, oversight and structured training to the individuals. It may include a 2nd year at a technical college in order to finish a two year program. It will include further OJT. This is a much more concentrated approach than simply “Head out to the shop and report to John. He’s been here 20 years and will show you around.” That has been the traditional approach that gets a machinist 10 years of experience in 10 years. The idea is that if it takes 10 years to build 100 different products, the trainee needs to build 100 different products in five years. If it usually takes 10 years to break 100 cutters, we want them to break 100 cutters in five years!

For more information or to apply to this program, contact Amanda Robinson, Customized Training Rep, at or 952-995-1371.

The changing demographic landscape of Minnesota’s workforce has highlighted the need for Occupational English.  Occupational English develops critical workplace communication skills for ESL individuals.  Employers who do business in highly regulated environments find the increasing need to provide occupational English to their front line employees (assembly). 

Two major Minnesota-based medical device employers identified the need for occupational English to improve quality.  Both employers offered this training to their large incumbent ESL workforce.  Pre and post assessments were administered, and 75% of the employers showed a large improvement in their understanding and comprehension of workplace related communication (i.e. processes and procedures).  The employers saw improvement in daily communication and overall improvement in quality.

Diversity, Culture & Language programs

M-Powered is a fastTrack training program for precision manufacturing.  Since 2005, M-Powered has educated and placed hundreds of Minnesotans into a career in manufacturing.  The most recent grant, Oct 2010-Sept 2013, was awarded from the US DOL for $2.6M.  As of August 31, 2013, 402 individuals enrolled in the program (Grant Goal: 385); 256 were placed in unsubsidized employment (Grant Goal: 240) with an average wage of $13.84 per hour; and 299 received industry credentials (Grant Goal: 300).  The Precision Manufacturing Association (PMA) awarded HTC’s M-Powered program the Clips & Clamps Industries Educational Institution Award for 2013.

M-Powered was developed in collaboration with precision manufacturers.  Industry has played a critical role in the evolution of the program and the overall success of both the students and program.  The advisory board has been meeting monthly for the past 8 years with members changing, throughout the years, to maintain a relevant program.  Even when employers are not actively involved on the board, they maintain a relationship and support by sending us job openings and offering tours to current classes.


The “From Line to Leadership” training program addresses incumbent worker new skill development for employee advancement. This program includes a course targeted at existing supervisors and was developed with industry partners such as E. J. Ajax & Sons Inc., St. Jude Medical Inc. and Toro Co. This training was aimed to help high-potential line workers transition to team leaders and supervisors.

“Our industry partners told us that they wanted this training because they are anticipating a skills gap and a leadership gap and they didn’t have a way to effectively move people from operations to team leader,” according to Mike Colestock, an industry veteran who is Hennepin Tech’s director of outreach and customized training. “It started out as a four-hour class, we expanded it to eight hours and now we’ve developed a 32- hour class.’’

Erick Ajax, a vice president with Fridley manufacturer E. J. Ajax, said company employees have benefitted from the new training program. It provides important skill development for Ajax’s increasingly age- and background-diverse workforce of about 50 people, including veterans and immigrants.

“We try to promote from within,” Ajax said. “We target people with leadership potential ... but it’s difficult for someone to make the transition sometimes from working on the floor with your colleagues to suddenly becoming a shift supervisor.

“This program addresses communications on many different levels; face-to-face, e-mail, letters and a lot of role playing and the opportunity to work with different personalities and behavior styles, and how to motivate different colleagues most effectively. The feedback from our people has been very positive. We invest 5.5 percent of our payroll every year in development and training and 80 to 90 percent has been at Hennepin Technical.”


CTS addressed the training needs of construction and industrial workers who rig loads and/or give signals for or lifting with hoists and cranes. The training was provided in partnership with a Federal OSHA Susan Harwood Grant. It was designed for construction and industry personnel who were currently, or were training to be, responsible for the operation of cranes and hoists, the rigging of suspended loads or the development of a written lift plan.

HTC was awarded $258,120 to develop curriculum for a four-hour Upper Midwest Rigging Safety Training Program. Fifty classes were conducted in a five-state area for small construction companies in the upper Midwest. The mobile crane training will include information on hoists, slings, rigging, materials handling, and the applicable OSHA standards. The course included hands-on training and interactive training elements.

Workplace Safety & OSHA Training

HTC is the only college to offer Community Paramedic training as an academic Certification program. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton recently signed into law the Community Paramedics Bill creating a new certification for emergency medical technicians -- Emergency Medical Technicians-Community Paramedics (EMT-CP). The first program began in May 2011 at HTC’s Eden Prairie campus, and will expand access to healthcare in underserved communities.

Community paramedics will provide health services where access to physicians, clinics or hospitals is difficult. Rural Minnesota, with its large population of elderly citizens and a critical shortage of healthcare professionals, will be one place where community paramedics can help the most.

“In areas without easy access to physicians and clinics, community paramedics can make a real difference in improving citizens’ quality of life and health,” said Kai Hjermstad, program coordinator for HTC’s Customized Training Services. He noted that in addition to serving the need for acute medical care, community paramedics’ work with public health agencies to identify needs in underserved communities and develop methods to better serve them. Studies have shown that the community paramedic model saves money by helping citizens and communities overcome barriers preventing them from accessing health services.

North Memorial has already hired recent graduates of the Community Paramedic certification program to begin leveraging this unique skill set.


Blending of food science and culinary arts began in 2011, when General Mills sought an opportunity for its food scientists to gain hands-on cooking experience that would enhance the development process. Now the scientists spend time in the Hennepin Technical College kitchens as they chop, sauté, stir, bake, and taste their way through a variety of recipes with HTC instructor Dave Eisenreich, who has taught at HTC since1998.

“Building the scientists’ culinary skills improves the quality of our products,” says Jonathan Griebel, senior scientist at General Mills. He notes that the classes have helped product developers refine their definitions of the tastes they want to produce. “Instead of telling their supplier they want onion flavor, they now might specify sautéed onions,” explains Griebel.

As for class content, Eisenreich worked with Griebel and HTC’s Suzanne Ciebiera, training and development director of Customized Training Services, to develop a program that would fit the needs of the food scientists. Currently, there are four courses:  101 focuses on fundamentals such as knife skills and basic cooking technique; 201 builds on those skills and advances to work on building meals and flavors; 301 explores the culinary fundamentals of Mexican and Italian cuisines; and 401 is devoted to the fundamentals of baking, highlighted by artisan breads, cakes, cookies, and pies. With classes of just 12 to 15 individuals, there’s plenty of time to discuss what the students are learning.

 “As people watch cooking shows and travel shows, they’re becoming interested in a wider variety of flavors,” observes Griebel. To meet the challenge, General Mills provides food scientists with continuing education that keeps them inspired.

“Our relationship is particularly rewarding for me because those attending the sessions bring a wealth of knowledge about the food industry,” says Eisenreich. “Aside from that, they are just great people.”

With classes that bring together people from General Mills’ research and development team and HTC’s culinary arts program, one thing is clear:  It’s all about good food.



Working with partners in industry, education, government and non-profit organizations, CTS has developed HTC’s WorkFast programs – short-term training programs that lead to employment for Minnesota workers. The goal is to offer stackable training that results in competitive skills leading to new and enhanced opportunities for graduates. In these economically challenging times, utilize all workforce resources available to help address these employment and training needs.

CTS has developed and offered many WorkFast programs, including CNC Machinist, Swiss Machinist, SolidWorks, Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (TIG), Medical Device and Microsoft Applications.

One example of the success of these Workfast programs is a 22-credit occupational certificate program in metal inert gas welding, called MIG welding for short. This skills based training program worked effectively for retraining workers at Cummins Power Generation, a Fridley based company that manufactures power generators.

Chris and Cheryl Lofgren, a married couple employed at Cummins, were simultaneously laid of from their jobs at Cummins Power Generation, a Fridley company that manufactures power generators. Both were let go as part of a larger workforce reduction because of a slump in product demand. Read More.

Both entered and completed the Gas Metal Arc Welding (MIG) certification program through CTS, and were both successfully re-hired with Cummins. Their new jobs as welders pay them $2.30 an hour more than their previous jobs at the company. And in case of another layoff, workers in other departments who have more seniority can’t bump them from their welding jobs.

WorkFast programs offer workers the training and certification needed to access higher paying jobs, while providing employers with skilled workers, invested in their careers.

Workfast Training