LIFT Receives $1 Million to Re-Train Civilian Manufacturing Workers in Response to COVID-19

The Workforce Intelligence Network will provide employer and workforce system engagement for the Operation Next implementation, working directly with small and medium manufacturers and the individuals who can benefit from the training offered. Funding through CARES Act supports 250 workers in Detroit.

LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, today announced it has received $1 million to expand its Operation Next program to reskill/upskill civilian workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. A skilled and ready workforce is among the most critical assets for manufacturing employers’ recovery post-COVID-19.

The new award from the National Institute of Standards and Technology is funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed by President Trump in March 2020. It will enable LIFT to provide training to 250 workers in CNC machine operations, industrial technology maintenance, welding and robotics in Detroit and Pittsburgh.

“We have seen this pandemic drastically impact our nation’s manufacturing base, particularly small and medium-sized manufacturers, and it is up to institutes like ours, along with our partners in the public and private sectors, to help get these businesses and their workers back on track as the nation emerges from shutdowns,” said Nigel Francis, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, LIFT. “Operation Next is one of our most successful and impactful programs, and we are proud to expand it to industry.”

LIFT will engage with small and medium manufacturers through Catalyst Connection, a Pennsylvania Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan.

This award provides critical support to individuals and employers as the ‘post-pandemic’ economy emerges and the need for new technologies and processes grows, putting workers with ill-fitting or underdeveloped skills at risk of being left behind.

Initially launched in 2018 as a pilot program at Ft. Campbell, 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 to nine new bases around the country over the next three years.


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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