TMA and Bethel New Life Graduate First Cohort of NIMS-Credentialed Trainees

New Partnership Addresses Skilled Worker Shortage

It seems that everyone is talking about the “skilled worker shortage” and “skills gap” these days, and TMA members are no exception. Many have related that they are finding it difficult to find and retain skilled workers. TMA is excited to announce a new initiative to address the skills gap and worker shortage.

This past February, TMA launched an important training initiative with Bethel New Life, a Chicago non-profit and new TMA member. Founded in 1979 with a mission to transform the West Side of Chicago, Bethel has been at the forefront with effective programs for its communities which include: Austin, West and East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park and North Lawndale. In its first three decades, Bethel built 1,200 affordable homes, advocated for social reforms, provided in-home care to the elderly, welcomed people home from prison to find legal employment, provided programs for neighborhood youth, and was instrumental in the development of community investment vehicles such as the New Market Tax Credit program.

Today Bethel leads the way in the community development movement. “Our approach is access to opportunity,” said Edward Coleman, Bethel New Life Vice President of Community Economic Development. “It is a sustainable model that gives people the tools and opportunities needed to become a contributing part of their community. TMA sees the value in that approach, and that makes this partnership ideal.”

“In our vision, the West Side is a place people choose to live, work, raise a family and retire,” said Dr. Lori Vallelunga, CEO and President of Bethel New Life. “With our 35 years of experience, we have learned that in order to transform our communities we must first reduce poverty. Doing this requires an investment in two areas—education and jobs. At the same time, there is a national skills gap crisis. Training motivated members of our community to fill the jobs that our economy greatly needs just makes sense.”

TMA, Bethel New Life Partnership

TMA’s CNC training is key to the success of the program. “Our lab is cutting-edge. We prepare program participants to earn NIMS CNC credentials,” said Patrick Osborne, Vice President of Training and Education at TMA. “The participants in the Bethel New Life program are driven, professional and have real goals. By preparing them to become NIMS CNC certified, we eliminate what could be a real barrier to their career goals and life they are willing to work for.”

The first cohort from Bethel New Life just finished the program, and included nine students who received training at TMA’s NIMS-accredited Fred W. Buhrke Training Center in Arlington Heights. The students, all new to manufacturing, completed the 16-week hands-on program and earned two NIMS credentials: CNC Turning: Programming Setup & Operations and CNC Milling: Programming Setup & Operations.

There are 237 manufacturing businesses near Bethel’s service area employing 9,000 people – and many of those employees are nearing retirement. Bethel plans to equip West Side residents to take on good-paying manufacturing jobs. “I only envision success for this partnership. Success for our students, success for this program, and success for the manufacturing industry,” said Coleman. The next two classes have already begun, starting with Bethel’s employment readiness training and an introduction to manufacturing.

The partnership between Bethel New Life and TMA is an innovative solution. “Who would have thought the key to growing the manufacturing sector could be solved by creating a relationship with a West Side nonprofit? TMA did, and Bethel New Life did. And it is these kinds of mutually beneficial alliances between the business and nonprofit sectors that will be key,” said Osborne.

For more information on Bethel New Life please visit For more information on TMA training, please contact the TMA Education Department at 847-825-1120 or