Community Partnering with Customized Internships Fills Goodyear Skills Gap

Posted By: Kevin Henson, Technical Training Coordinator, Great Plains Technology Center on August 07, 2018

Kevin Henson, Technical Training Coordinator, Great Plains
    Technology Center

Kevin Henson joins us today to discuss how Great Plains Technology Center, and its longtime training and economic partner Goodyear Tire and Rubber, collaborated to develop an industrial maintenance internship to fill Goodyear’s workforce pipeline.

When Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., in Lawton, Okla., began facing the same mass exodus of aging associates as other manufacturers in the country, its leaders decided to look within their community to fill the company’s workforce needs.

Goodyear’s goal was to fill the gap between what career and technology students were learning in their high school programs and the baseline skills needed for entry into the Goodyear Industrial Maintenance Technician Training Program.

As Goodyear’s long-time training and economic development partner in Lawton, Great Plains Technology Center (GPTC) was a logical choice to help. GPTC is part of a statewide system of publicly funded career and technology education centers serving southwestern Oklahoma.

In August 2016, we designed a company-sponsored internship program that blended Tooling U-SME online training with instructor-led training and work experience. Interns spend two days a week working at Goodyear, one day completing online training modules, and two days in GPTC’s 30,000-square-foot technical skills training facility.

To be eligible for the program, students must be at least 18 years of age and graduates of a career technical program at GPTC. Goodyear chooses candidates from six programs it feels will give applicants an excellent base for industrial maintenance and test their aptitude for this type of work. The six programs are:

  • Automotive Maintenance
  • Electricians
  • Farm Diesel Mechanics
  • HVAC Technicians
  • Pre-Engineering
  • Welders

Designed to provide a well-rounded experience while being flexible enough for successful completion during an 18-week period, the internship program consists of six electrical competencies, three mechanical competencies, and 43 specific hands-on tasks and assessments, including:

  • ONLINE TRAINING: One day per week, interns take advantage of Tooling U-SME’s online learning, totaling 144 hours of classes and corresponding assessments. A carefully selected set of Tooling U-SME training modules is assigned to set the stage for hands-on instruction and reinforce the on-the-production-floor experience.
  • INSTRUCTOR-LED TRAINING: Two days per week are dedicated to instructor-led and hands-on training at GPTC’s industrial maintenance training facility. Instructors reinforce online learning with demonstrations and shop exercises totaling 320 hours.
  • HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE: Two days per week, interns work at Goodyear to amass 320 hours of work experience during the program. Under the supervision of Goodyear Maintenance Managers, interns have an opportunity to build on what they learn in the school environment and experience work in a manufacturing setting.

This competency-based program, in a small group setting, is an advantage for students. It provides information and experience-sharing opportunities, makes it easy to collaborate with instructors on shop projects and job tasks, and allows students to advance with established team communication.


Qualified interns, considered temporary associates, are paid $15 per hour for 40 hours per week. Once their internships are completed, candidates are given a five-hour written test and interview to make sure they are ready for the next step.


Successful graduates of the intern program become full-time maintenance trainees, earning approximately $25 per hour plus benefits. These trainees return to GPTC to complete an additional 1,400 hours of maintenance training, combining online and instructor-led training with hands-on experience at Goodyear.


Once students complete the trainee program, they are prepared for multi-crafted positions and offered full-time maintenance technician positions at Goodyear.

This process provides standardized results and gives students a direct career path to fill the Goodyear pipeline.

In April 2018, GPTC began its third Goodyear internship program with 10 students. Combined with five graduates in 2016 and seven in 2017, Goodyear will have a total of 22 intern graduates. Only three have left the program, giving the company an 86-percent retention rate for new associates.

It’s important to recognize the needs of your local community and to invest in long-term partnerships. While it takes time, it’s well worth the effort when you see your students choosing a strong career path and helping to fill the skills gap in manufacturing.

To learn more about how manufacturers collaborate in their communities to develop a skilled workforce, improve productivity, and grow their business, call Tooling U-SME at 866.706.8665.

Tags: "aging employees", "blended online training", "Goodyear Industrial Maintenance Technician Training Internship Program", "Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company", GPTC, "Great Plains Technology Center", "hybrid course", ILT, "instructor-led training", internship, "maintenance technician", "maintenance trainee", "online learning", partnerships