Logo for Operation Next

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the manufacturing sector and impacted its workforce. Operation Next provides flexible training pathways to upskill or reskill employees of small and medium manufacturers who are returning to work or developing new skills needed for the post-pandemic economy.

Operation Next is now available at no-cost to small and medium manufacturers in Pittsburgh who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This support is provided by LIFT with a grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST].

Operation Next features an accelerated, hybrid curriculum that combines virtual learning online through simulations and multimedia with hands-on, performance-based learning on real-world manufacturing equipment.


Hybrid Virtual Learning and Work or Lab-Based Training:

  • Select from one of three majors that will prepare them for the most in-demand advanced manufacturing jobs: CNC Machine Operator, Industrial Maintenance Technician, or Welding.
  • Complete training at their own pace, combining virtual learning and hands-on training on real industry equipment. Hands-on training delivered by local educational providers.
  • Earn nationally portable industry-recognized credentials.


  • CNC Machine Operations pathway prepares personnel for the role of CNC Operator and is aligned to National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) industry standards.
  • Industrial Maintenance Technician prepares personnel for one of two tracks- Mechanical Maintenance Technician or Electrical Maintenance Technician and is aligned to NIMS Industrial Technology Maintenance industry standards.
  • Welding prepares personnel to become entry-level welders and is aligned to American Welding Society (AWS) SENSE Level I: Entry Level Welder standards.

Online Training: Self-paced

CNC Machine Operations Pathway Hands-On Training: New Century Careers (located in Pittsburgh, PA) will be assisting trainees with obtaining two NIMS credentials : NIMS Benchwork and Layout and NIMS Measurement, Materials and Safety.

Training times: Monday – Friday 10a-2p (4 weeks), Mon/Wed Evenings 4p-10p (8 weeks)

Welding Hands-On Training: The Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) West Hills location (Oakdale, PA) will be assisting trainees with obtaining AWS credentials.

Training times: Saturdays 8a – 4:30p (17 weeks). CCAC Welding training will provide 140 hours hands on training including OSHA 10, SMAW and AWS D 1.1 Certification.

To  learn more about enrolling in this free training, please email Mara Peduto at mpeduto@catalystconnection.org for details.