Ivanka Trump joined industry leaders and advanced manufacturing students Tuesday to announce a partnership that could increase the number of skilled technicians in the United States.

The partnership is between Toyota Motor North America and The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers. As part of the partnership, operation and supervision of Toyota's Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education would become part of the MI.

"Toyota did something exceptional in creating a pilot (program)," Trump said. "... It developed a life of its own, and today is about celebrating the manufacturing industry coming and taking best-in-class practices from the private sector and scaling that opportunity so that many, many more Americans can experience it."

Originally started in Kentucky, FAME helps students earn a two-year industrial degree in advanced manufacturing. There are currently 31 chapters across the country, and the chapter at Alabama Robotics Technology Park in Decatur-annexed Limestone County was chosen to host the announcement.

"It's overwhelming but incredibly exciting to be here and be a part of such a big day," said Allison Doyal, FAME student. "... Things like this are great for people around here, because it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to go to school, you make good money, and you typically have a job waiting for you as soon as you get out of school."

NAM President and Chief Executive Officer Jay Timmons said there are currently about 522,000 job opportunities in the manufacturing industry, and the number could reach 2.4 million by 2028.

"The good news is, we have an administration that is really paying attention to manufacturing," Timmons said.

Trump agreed, praising her father's work to aid the industry through policy changes and trade deal negotiations.

"The future is advanced manufacturing, and the jobs are being created," Trump said. "... This is really an exciting time for the industry."

Before the announcement, Trump took a tour of some of the work stations where FAME students learn their skills. Jeffrey Neill, a student from Tennessee, shared with Trump what he's learned and how the program has benefited him.

FAME is an employer collaborative, so students like Neill can work three days a week with a company in their field — in his case, Toyota — and attend school two days a week. When he graduates, he will not only have an associate degree in advanced manufacturing but more opportunities for advancing his career.

"They're very serious about not only teaching you the information you need to know to do the job well, but they also teach you how to be a good adult, how to interview well, how to speak to people and look them in the eye when you talk to them and how to present yourself in a way that makes people want to hire you," Doyal said.

Doyal and Neill are considered nontraditional students in the program because they joined later in life. However, the program is also open to traditional students who are fresh from college, like Paul Logston.

Logston said he graduated in the Class of 2018 from Lawrence County High School and had already toured several places to see where he wanted to go from college.

"I had five scholarships at the end of my senior year," Logston said. "I was visiting everywhere, all the way up to Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky."

A counselor told him about the FAME program, and after attending an information session, he decided to give it a shot. Now he's sponsored by EFi Automotive in Elkmont, has the potential to earn his degree alongside job experience without going into student debt, and he can enjoy a multitude of open opportunities after graduation.

"FAME has set the standard for industry-driven apprenticeships, and by taking it nationwide, we will open the door to high-paying manufacturing jobs for Americans across the country," Timmons said. "... Our industry is stepping up to be the solution and to provide opportunities for Americans to find meaningful careers in a growing and transforming industry. Manufacturers are grateful for Toyota's vision in launching this program nearly a decade ago and for the Trump administration's vocal support for expanding apprenticeship programs in America."n

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