Shiny and New Employees: How Educators Are Meeting Industry Demand

It is no news to those working in the manufacturing field that there is a shortage of talent. To attract the next generation of workers needed to fill production-level jobs to the executive positions spearheading manufacturing companies, the word needs to be spread regarding the abundance of careers available in the manufacturing industry.

When thinking of manufacturing, the untrained mind tends to go toward factory labor and other less “flashy” jobs. However, manufacturing has a much greater diversity of occupations, and many people don’t know that.

Luckily, higher and secondary educators are becoming more aware of just how misunderstood the manufacturing field is. To coincide with existing positions in the workforce, the field is beginning to benefit from increased interest from students. And some major additions and overhauls to existing programs and facilities have taken place in the past several months as educators works with manufacturers to re-invent the field and encourage individuals looking for career opportunities to enter it.

LIXIL Americans supports a four-year apprenticeship program for high school students

One major question many companies are asking is, “What is the best way we can attract new talent?” PMI member LIXIL Americas is supporting a four-year apprenticeship program for high school students interested in plumbing careers. The program is offered through the Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School (SCVTS) in Bridgewater Township, N.J., Contractor magazine reports.

Completing this program puts students on a fast-track to applying for a Master Plumber license, which yields an earning potential of $115,000 for a plumber in New Jersey. SCVTS is just one of the seven vocational and technical schools LIXIL has supported in New Jersey over the past year. LIXIL also regularly hosts groups of local STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) students at its Research and Design Center in Piscataway, where they receive a full day of mentorship, the Contractor article said.

Support of the apprenticeship program is part of a larger effort by LIXIL Americas to create awareness of the importance of plumbers, and how their contributions ensure safe drinking water and proper sanitation to communities across America.

Colleges and universities gear up to prepare students for manufacturing careers

Similar efforts are being made in support of the manufacturing industry. As reported by Parsippany Focus, the New Jersey County College of Morris (CCM) Board of Trustees broke ground for a state-of-the-art Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Center, which is designed to address employment needs and growing industry demands. Expected to open in spring 2020, the facility will boast electronics labs, a 3D printing room, a welding lab and more to help attract a stronger base for manufacturers. Industry leaders look at this facility as a resource for the community; to support regional manufacturers, providing an innovative and inspiring learning environment for tomorrow’s engineers and manufacturers is vital.

Aside from addressing the need for technologically advanced facilities and fancy laboratories, manufacturing is changing with the times, and those in the field recognize the need to keep up with ever-changing technologies and new aspects of manufacturing that may not have existed 20 years ago.

Addressing the digital aspect of manufacturing

Purdue University is specifically addressing the booming digital aspect of manufacturing. In an article on Purdue’s website, the institution announced the ribbon-cutting of its Manufacturing Design Laboratory in January, a research space dedicated to the technology-driven future of manufacturing. This approach to innovation is very calculated, as Indiana has the highest concentration of manufacturing jobs in the nation. This new space will serve as a testbed for Indiana companies developing advanced manufacturing systems. Facilities like these fully prepare students for new and good-paying jobs.

Not only are these new facilities and developments targeting the workforce of tomorrow, cutting-edge training and professional development programs provided at these facilities will provide the industry the skilled and innovative professionals they need to remain industry leaders, as well as the opportunity to work collaboratively on solutions and new developments for tomorrow. Meeting the need for skilled employees is challenging, as the industry continues to grow and new demands develop to feed the current pipeline of skilled workers.

Workforce development center to serve regional needs

Now that the facilities are popping up, the manufacturing industry still needs strategies for recruitment. In an article by The Daily Times in Blount County, Tenn., Pelissippi State Community College has a few tricks up its sleeve regarding the best ways to entice people to think hard about joining the manufacturing field. Becoming the largest expansion in the college’s 44-year history, a new $16.5 million workforce development center is scheduled to open in fall 2021. The 62,000-square-foot facility will include advanced manufacturing, information technology, engineering, culinary arts and healthcare programs.

However, those behind the establishment of this facility are aware that a fancy new building is not the only way to encourage students to explore manufacturing careers; Pellissippi State will offer opportunities for local high school students to earn college credit and will provide a corporate training center for employers. Being the spear for developing the workforce the region needs, this new development center will benefit all manufacturers in east Tennessee. This facility is a great example of how to effectively feed into the growth of the manufacturing industry. Believing in the vision of a stronger, more skilled manufacturing workforce of the future is only the beginning.