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It’s not often that everything seems to fall into place, but when Janice Peete decided to enroll in training to get certified as a machinist, that is exactly what happened.

Machinists operate heavy machinery to produce parts and tools from metal, plastic, or other materials. There is a strong market for those skills in Memphis with medical devices and advanced manufacturing companies like Smith+Nephew, Onix Medical, Eversana, and more.

While Peete had experience in machining, she knew she needed the certification in order to get a better job and start a meaningful career. Peete enrolled in the training at Arkansas State University (ASU).

The training was free, part of the MOVEHIRE (Medical Device Occupations Value Education and Help in the Regional Economy) grant, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and administered locally through the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW).

“It gave me the opportunity to go to school in a short amount of time and not accumulate debt,” said Peete. “I worked second shift and was easily able to take classes earlier in the day. It all just fell into place.”

The program took about four and a half months. COVID-19 created a bit of a slowdown as schools dealt with how to continue classes. But Peete received her certification and is now a machinist at Smith+Nephew.

ASU MOVEHIRE Program Coordinator Matt Suda says it really is inspiring to see these students make a change in their life. He says he has seen all types of students enroll in the MOVEHIRE training. Some students come to them with only a GED, while others have earned as much as a master’s degree. Some students have no experience in the workforce, while others have changed careers several times.

“To me, workers who take our courses looking to upskill and move up in their manufacturing companies are uniquely inspiring,” said Suda. “I get an opportunity to meet and work with people who are ready to make sacrifices and put in the effort to improve their lives. It’s humbling and I have the utmost respect for our students.”

Janice Peete