Manufacturing Certification Program Offered to Detroit Businesses Recovering from Pandemic

LIFT’s “Operation Next” expands beyond the military with funding provided through CARES Act.

LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, part of the Manufacturing USA network, today opened its Operation Next advanced manufacturing certification program to employees of Detroit-area small and medium-sized manufacturers to help them recover from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Available to industry for the first time, the new Operation Next civilian program, funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and awarded to LIFT by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, will support the training of 250 workers, at no cost to the individual or their employer, in Detroit and Pittsburgh.  The workers will participate in industry-standard training in CNC machine operations, industrial technology maintenance, welding and robotics.

Operation Next features a hybrid curriculum – online theory combined with performance-based activities and assessment – and its accelerated pace is ideal for reskilling or upskilling incumbent workers. In Detroit, employers will have the option of providing performance-based training at their own worksite or at LIFT’s Learning Lab in Corktown. Completers will earn industry recognized credentials from the National Institute of Metal Working Skills and American Welding Society. LIFT is partnering with the Workforce Intelligence Network (WIN) to bring manufacturers into the program. Companies can get more information on how to become a part of the program here.

“Workforce training is the key to putting our country on a path to economic recovery and retaining our global manufacturing leadership,” said Congresswoman Haley Stevens (MI-11). “I am thrilled that LIFT now has the resources to expand Operation Next to workers at small and mid-sized manufacturers in southeastern Michigan. This program allows workers to advance their skillsets through industry-standard technical training, which will help Michigan manufacturers respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was proud to support funding for this program through the bipartisan CARES Act, because the Manufacturing USA institutes are perfectly positioned to help our manufacturing economy rebound.”

“It is our mission to drive American manufacturing into the future through technology and talent development, and the opportunity to expand Operation Next into industry will allow us to do just that here in Detroit and in Pittsburgh,” said Nigel Francis, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, LIFT. “Operation Next has been an overwhelming success in supporting our military men and women transition to civilian careers. We are proud to expand it as part of the pandemic recovery and applaud our federal partners in enabling us to do that.”

“The ground game tactic for career navigation begins with certification training and stackable credentials that can be leveraged throughout a career and you don’t want to miss the target on this opportunity,” says Michele Economou Ureste, WIN Executive Director.

Initially launched in 2018 as a pilot program at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, Operation Next is an innovative manufacturing-focused training and credentialing initiative for separating military personnel. This marks the second expansion of Operation Next, and the first into the commercial industrial sector. In late 2019, LIFT announced the Department of Defense would support the program’s expansion over the next three years to nine new military installations, the National Guard and Reserve, and military spouses around the country.

Learn more about Operation Next.




LIFT, operated by the American Lightweight Materials Manufacturing Innovation Institute, is the Detroit-based, public-private partnership between the Department of Defense, industry and academia, committed to the development and deployment of advanced manufacturing technologies, and implementing talent development initiatives to better prepare the workforce today and in the future. LIFT funded in part by the Department of Defense with management through the Office of Naval Research. Visit or follow on LinkedIn at LIFT or on Twitter @NewsFromLIFT to learn more.

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