Skyepack Mission: Bringing Knowledge of Local Jobs to Area Students

(Top) Left to right: DACC VP of Academic Affairs Dr. Carl Bridges, Skyepack CEO Eric Davis, Vermilion Advantage CEO Tim Dudley, Vermilion Advantage Chamber Director Nicole Van Hyfte, VVEDS Executive Director Nick Chatterton.

Almost 18 months ago, Vermilion Advantage’s Tim Dudley and Nicole Van Hyfte were in Lafayette, Indiana; where they heard about a local company and its relationship with the community of Lafayette. That company was Skyepack. As Skyepack CEO Eric Davis explains, he worked in K through 12 education himself for nine years and saw many students who didn’t go to four year college or perhaps didn’t have a career path in mind. And he realized that something was missing.

Eric Davis, CEO of Skyepack

AUDIO: We have high-wage, high-demand jobs that go unfilled. One of the things we wanted to do as a company was to create these connections between K-12, these employers, the educators, the students and their parents.

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Tim Dudley, executive director of Vermilion Advantage, immediately thought, This is what Vermilion County needs. A way of growing a talented workforce, letting them know exactly where they could work as adults and instilling the skills in them.

AUDIO: What’s going on here in Vermilion County? Not just generic things like “how to become a rocket scientist” or “how to be a worker in general”; it’s about what’s going on here. You can get information about our company.

And from Monday 3 Octoberapprox, the program was officially launched, right at the start of the manufacturing month of October. Nicole Van Hyfte, director of the Vermilion Advantage Chamber. The program begins with Skyepack teaching local students what the local industry is all about through videos followed by field trips.

AUDIO: Students and parents learn more about well-paying jobs that students can get into right after high school. And if they choose to do so, they have the opportunity to have their education paid for.

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And these local training opportunities are certainly true for some local institutions. Nick Chatterton is Executive Director of VVEDS, a dueling credit technical training program at DACC, remembered by some as the old VOTEK program.

VVEDS Managing Director Nick Chatterton

AUDIO: We’re hoping that the students looking at this will be like, ‘Oh, that’s my grandpa.’ Or you know, ‘I know someone who works there.’ And making that connection and hopefully being able to be to grow our own and sustain the industry we have in Vermilion County; and hopefully one day expand.

Also present was Danville Area Community College Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Carl Bridges.

AUDIO: What I’m most excited about in this opportunity is that it will engage our students in our community to understand the options that are available to them here in Vermilion County.

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The Skyepack program in Vermilion County will initially target people in their 8th and 8th gradesth grade through high school. Schools registered to date include Danville High School, Hoopeston Area High School and Westville Junior High School. Participating local manufacturers have so far been TK Crankshaft, TK Dynamic Components, Danville Metal Stamping, Fiberteq, Watchfire Signs, Greenwood Inc and Hyster-Yale.

The plan is to eventually teach younger children in the area these skills; and go beyond local manufacturing to include local healthcare, as well as local education, retail and more. Teachers, schools or school districts in Vermilion County interested in learning more about participating in Skyepack can contact Nicole Van Hyfte of Vermilion Advantage at 217-442-6201.

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