BLUFFTON — Grob Systems in Bluffton, a maker of equipment enabling automakers to produce engines and transmissions, is getting $25,000 in federal funds for worker training, company and business leaders said Wednesday.

The funds will help cover three months of electrical and mechanical training for 37 apprentices now in the second year of their four-year Grob apprenticeship, said Mark Reed, apprenticeship training supervisor for Grob.

Grob employs nearly 600 people at its Bluffton plant.

Total cost for three months of training: $462,650, including apprentices’ wages, tuition at Rhodes State College, Grob trainers’ costs and training materials.

The $25,000 in federally-derived funds cover about 5 percent of the total cost. Those funds were awarded to Grob through Allen County OhioMeansJobs, $20,000; and Hancock County OhioMeansJobs, $5,000.

It’s all in the service of helping Grob during a nationwide shortage of qualified manufacturing workers.

“Right now is definitely an employee’s market, so you’re fighting to keep the employees you have,” said Joe Patton, director of OhioMeansJobs, Allen County. “Typically a lot of times with the extra skill and extra gain comes extra wages, which helps keep (employees) engaged. They see the company as investing in them, which kind of helps retain workers.”

It’s an essential part of a manufacturer’s success.

“In this day and age, a company may have enough business activity to grow and expand, but they can’t find the qualified workforce to get them there,” said Doug Olsson, chief executive officer of Greater Lima Region Inc. “So there’s all kinds of initiatives, this being one, that are helping companies find qualified workers and then once they find those workers, how can they upscale them and continue to educate them through the process.”

“It doesn’t benefit a company to find new customers and to grow their business if they don’t have a workforce to support that growth,” Olsson said. “That’s what really this is all about.”

Wilin: 419-427-8413 Send an E-mail to Lou Wilin