Caterpillar Graduates First Hiring Innovation Program Class
This program has changed me; I’m truly a different person now than I was at the start of the year.” That’s how CHIP – the Caterpillar Hiring Innovation Program – student Cole Measheaw described his five months of hands-on training at Caterpillar East Peoria during a recent graduation ceremony filled with the students’ family, Caterpillar top leadership and CHIP organizers, members of the Peoria Public Schools and even local media.
Cole was one of seven high school seniors hand selected from Manual Academy in Peoria, Illinois to participate in the pilot program, which was a partnership this year between the Material Handling & Underground team and the Peoria Public Schools. The two groups envisioned a learning opportunity for local youth both on the factory floor in skilled trades such as welding, painting and assembly, as well as development in soft skills, functional/technical knowledge, financial literacy and mentoring.
But, this program did more! Like Cole mentioned, it truly changed who they are. Manual Academy Principal Elizabeth Zilkowski shared a story about Denisse Rivera, the only female student of the group, at the graduation ceremony. Elizabeth described Denisse as one of her quieter students; however, she said this program broke her out of her shell. While training one day on the paint line in East Peoria, as a group of Manual juniors walked by touring the building to get a feel for this pilot program, Denisse without any hesitation took the microphone from the tour guide and very eloquently spoke about her training and experiences thus far on the job.
East Peoria Facility Manager Adrian Garcia echoed those comments when he kicked off the graduation ceremony telling the crowd he saw the students on their first day on the job and now on their last, and over the months, he was able to see first-hand how much confidence they gained – not to mention teamwork, perseverance and a commitment to excellence.
Closing out the ceremony, and before handing each student a diploma and breaking for cake, Caterpillar Vice President Karl Weiss thanked the students for opening themselves up to the possibility of a career in manufacturing – a great industry to be a part of – and wished them nothing but success in their futures, whether that is with or without Caterpillar.
Four of the students are anticipating joining team Caterpillar full-time in June. Proof that the CHIP program is a great example of what can be accomplished when we think outside the box and work together on a program; a program that simultaneously addressed business and community needs, created career opportunities for students they might have never discovered otherwise and is helping Caterpillar build its manufacturing talent pipeline.
Caterpillar will continue to work with the Peoria Public Schools on a program for the fall of 2018.