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Dirty Work

Dirty Work 

Jergens Inc. in Cleveland is going after a virtually untapped market with its 3-month-old site, ToolingU.com.  The 60-year-old Cleveland manufacturer is on a mission to sign up corporation for its on-line training courses

"Most online learning is aimed at traditional education degrees," said Jergens President Jack H. Schron Jr., "but ToolingU is aimed at the industrial, fingernail-dirt-type subjects used in manufacturing."

Jergens, which makes clamping systems and sells industrial cutting tools, saw an opportunity to capitalize on manufacturers' needs to improve employee skills in a period during which machinery and cutting tools are changing dramatically.

Schron believes that the 2-month-old site will be successful partly because there's a training shortage in high schools and trade schools.

ToolingU has partnered with manufacturers like Dayton Progress and educational institutions such as Cuyahoga Community College.  After placing ads and getting several articles in trade publications, Jergens is encouraged by about 600 unique visitors to the site in the last week, including representatives from Ford, Boeing, GM, Disney, Kodak, and General Electric.

"ToolingU students can use the latest technologies to learn industrial subjects either on the computer or hand-held devices" Schron said.

Jergens is pitching ToolingU to human resource departments.  For $300 per employee, companies gain access to the site's industrial courses for a year.  So far the site offers 20 classes including metal removing, workholding, and computer numerical control.

Companies and individuals spent more than a $1 billion on e-learning last year, and that figure is expected to increase tenfold by 2003, according to research firm International Data Corp. of Framingham, Mass.

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