Mind the Gap: Making kids aware of manufacturing jobs

  By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter One of the things that always struck me about manufacturers is they generally don’t realize how cool their jobs really are. And I get why. You’ve been doing this your whole life, it pays the bills and it has its disappointments, headaches and setbacks. But manufacturing made the modern world we live in possible. And the stuff you see as routine, through anyone else’s eyes is really, really cool. Don’t believe me? Ask a bunch of middle school kids in Pennsylvania. 12223read more >

The Needle Begins to Move on the Skilled Trades Gap

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter Wait, Did You Feel That? The needle began to move on the skilled trades gap. Don’t look now, but the problem you’ve known about for a generation, the lack of people coming into the skilled trades, is finally going mainstream. It’s subtle, but change is beginning to show. First there are the local advocates, who have been talking about the problem for years. You know them, they’re in your local Union Hall, Welding School, or in the rapidly dwindling number of High School Vo-Tech programs. Or they’re part of the increasingly aging workforce itself, all too aware that there are more of them retiring than entering the workforce, and hanging around looking for someone to step up. And there are now countless local efforts. Here in Northeast Ohio, the Cuyahoga Community College launched a mobile workforce training center. Tri-C customizes it with virtual welders, CNC machines or other demos as the employer or school needs. Also in the Cleveland area, Lincoln Electric, whose Carl Peters is an advocate for training program development, recently capped off the framing of their new, $30 million welding technology center project. Nationally the news is just as encouraging. Mike Rowe, who has capitalized on his TV fame to promote the trades through his foundation, is getting ready to take applications for 2017 scholarships. He’s also a great social media follow, and recently testified before congress. Even more promising, This Old House, the venerable PBS show, launched Generation Next a partnership with MikeRoweWORKS designed to highlight the jobs available in the skilled trades and destigmatize these jobs for today’s youth. NPR’s excellent Marketplace program recently had several in-depth features on training skilled workers, produced by senior education correspondent Amy Scott. Plus, there are the national groups dedicated to the trades,…read more >

Creativity is the Key

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter It took creativity to start your business, and it takes creativity to keep it running every day. So why not apply that same creativity to the greatest challenge facing the manufacturing industry: the lack of skilled tradesmen and tradeswomen? The time to act is now. Waiting for someone else to plug the hole simply won’t work. Schools’ budgets are squeezed too tight. Government agencies are interested in quick fixes, not long-term solutions. You need to find the next generation of workers. You have two huge advantages: as a manufacturer you’re used to seeing a problem from all angles and creating a solution. And your jobs are actually cool. They allow people looking for a challenge to use their minds and hands together to build something. So how do you reach future workers? Show off what you do! Take this example from Birmingham Georgia. A normal company would just see this as another contract. Another job. But BL Harbert saw an opportunity. The Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum is one of the most innovative museums in the world. Why not use it as a draw to show how their skills and abilities help make it that way? Partnering with Go Build Alabama, they arranged for 120 students to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of its museum expansion. Now, we can’t all be working on projects at cool museums, but believe me, much of what you do looks really cool to an outsider, especially when placed into the larger context of what it’s helping to create. I wish I could have seen a CNC machine in action when I was 16 or even a welder or PEX pipe. When you see what a little creativity can do to make the world a better place, or just to improve on…read more >

Climbing the Steel Ladder: It’s Never Been a Better Time for Women to Enter the Trades

Today we have a guest post from Kathy Jackson on behalf of the Tulsa Welding School. It’s never been a better time to crash that glass ceiling. Increasing numbers of women are climbing the steel ladder to a successful career in the skilled trades. While many of these jobs have traditionally been viewed as mostly male oriented, employers seeking welders, construction workers, and electrical technicians have been reaching out to women. Industry Growth Jobs in many skilled trades will likely be plentiful in the coming years thanks to growth in these industries. For example, jobs for electricians are expected to increase by 14 percent through 2024. The HVAC field is also expected to expand by 14 percent, notes the below data from Tulsa Welding School. Higher Earning Potential Women who wish to switch from female-dominated fields may find their earnings significantly higher: the average annual wage in childcare is $21,710 versus an average of $40,040 for welders. Or administrative assistants average $34,500 versus HVAC technicians, who average $46,880. Faster, Less Expensive Training Women looking to enter these fields won’t need a four-year university degree either. Most jobs only require a high school diploma and training at an accredited trade school, many of which can have graduates up and running in less than a year. Additionally, the savings in tuition will add up. The difference between a trade school and a four-year degree can be as much as $94,000, and university tuition will likely not be getting any more affordable in the near future. Plus, the Department of Labor announced $1.9 million total in grants as a part of the Women in Apprenticeships and Nontraditional Occupations program. If you’re a woman looking to climb that steel ladder even further, you can work towards positions in management and engineering in the HVAC…read more >

Wanted: A Harvard for Skilled Jobs

Today, we have a guest post from Jeff Selingo, author of "There Is Life After College," which comes out on April 12th. Nearly 40 percent of American workers hold a bachelor’s degree. College graduates are found in virtually every profession. Some 15 percent of mail carriers have a four-year credential, as do one in five clerical and sales workers, as well as, 83,000 bartenders. Getting a bachelor’s degree is what going to college means to most Americans and is so ingrained in our culture that students who don’t march along are often admonished, questioned  and considered failures. The decades-long march to college-for-everyone at 18 has actually closed off rather than opened up options for teenagers and twentysomethings. As recently as the 1970s, a teenager had a number of options after graduating from high school: get a good-paying job right away, enlist in the military, find an apprenticeship in a trade or go to college. A teenager today really has only two of those options still available: the military or college. Less than 1 percent of Americans serve in the military, so most go to college right after high school. In the early 1970s, less than half of high school graduates in the United States went on to college the following fall. Today, nearly 66 percent do. The goal of universal college has actually done more harm than good because it banished anything that smacks of job training to second-class status. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not encouraging 18-year-olds to skip out on further education after high school. But not everyone is ready for a traditional American college experience at 18, nor does it align with the interests, skills, and mindsets of some teenagers. We need more than just one pathway to good jobs in the U.S. What we need is…read more >

Over 21,000 Industry Recognized Skill Credentials Issued by NIMS in 2015

By Miles Free of PMPA. This post originally appeared on pmpaspeakingofprecision.com and is reposted with permission. 21,420 to be exact. This is a 20% increase in the number of credentials issued in the United States from 2014. It is a great start toward the 100,000 skilled jobs that industry will need to fill over the next decade… PMPA is an original founding partner of NIMS, and continues to support its mission to develop and certify industry recognized credentials for our workforce through consensus skill standards. NIMS has developed skills standards ranging from entry-level to master-level that cover the breadth of metalworking operations and industrial technology maintenance. NIMS certifies individuals’ skills against these national standards via credentials that companies can use to recruit, hire, place, and promote individual workers. Schools and employer training programs incorporate the credentials as performance and completion measures to deliver high quality training to industry standards. NIMS will soon add credentials in Industrial Technology Maintenance and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) to its portfolio of offerings in 2016-2017. NIMS works to ensure all individuals entering the workforce are equipped with the skills needed to be successful on the job from day one. “Executives from PMPA member shops all tell us that they would hire people with skills -even if they did not have an immediate opening,”  says Bernie Nagle, Executive Director of PMPA. “Our support of NIMS, and the RIGHT SKILLS NOW program is one way that PMPA and our members are addressing the issue of lack of skilled workforce. We congratulate NIMS, and their entire team, on the growth in credentials issued in 2015.” PMPA congratulates NIMS, all of its partner and sponsoring organizations, and the professionals doing the work that made 2015 a record year for credentials issued. This record is evidence of both the commitment  and achievement of developing a competitive workforce through…read more >

Seven Things to Do with a Database of U.S. Vocational Education Programs

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter We did the legwork to identify more than 20,000 vocational programs at schools all across the United States, so that you don’t have to. All you have to do is download it. But once you’ve downloaded the Excel spreadsheet, what can you do with it? Here are seven different ways you can use our database: Build your network. Locate the programs in your area, and connect with the folks that run them. You never know when having a connection in those training programs could be beneficial. Become a resource for them. Whether it’s offering to send someone from your organization to speak to a class or volunteering to host a facility tour, the next generation of tradespeople won’t be able to be trained properly without support from the industry. Hire their students. Use the programs in your area as places to recruit skilled employees, co-ops, interns or apprentices. Supply them. If you offer a product or service that’s of use in a training program, supply these programs either through donations of your products or heavily discounted equipment, students will be more likely to use the equipment they're familiar with from school once they get into the workforce. This grassroots strategy has long-term benefits; an ongoing relationship with a vo-ed program will provide exposure for you for each new class. Learn them. Get to know the next generation better. Millennials as a generation seem to frighten marketers and managers, but there’s no reason to be scared. Millennials are bright, technologically inclined and learn quickly; the sooner you engage with this young talent, the better. Get your distributors involved. Your distribution network can amplify your efforts to combat the skills gap. They can reach into areas far from your headquarters and help train the next generation.…read more >

Save the Date! Oct 2 is National Manufacturing Day

Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect at Sonnhalter National Manufacturing Day, or MFG Day, is October 2nd, which may feel like a long way off from right now, but you should start planning today. If you’re a manufacturer, you should plan an event. Not sure what type of an event to plan? There are a variety of options for hosting an event, ranging from full day tours and sessions to half day learning seminars, or even 1-hour presentations. If you’re not a manufacturer, you should attend an event. You can find Manufacturing Day events in your area using this interactive map. If you’re planning to host an event for MFG Day in October, here are a few tips to make it successful: Set goals for your event. Do you want to improve your company’s image in the community? Do you need to recruit new talent? Do you want to contribute to changing the image of manufacturing? Figure out what you want to accomplish with your event and then create your plan. Identify your target audience(s). Based on the needs of your organization, some potential audiences to invite include local technical school and high school administration, faculty and students; local and regional politicians; local and trade media; family and friends of your employees and/or the local community as a whole. Put together a simple agenda. Include time to introduce your company and tailor your event to the audience that you’re inviting. Plan informative and interactive activities. Facility tours, brief presentations on different roles and Q&A sessions are easy to arrange and are effective. Promote your event. Be sure to list your event with mfgday.com, use your network to promote, and personally invite your target audience and promote your event through your existing channels including on your website and social media. Not available on…read more >

From MAGNET: Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Talent

Each month we be feature a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Talent By Judith Crocker, Director of Workforce & Talent Development, MAGNET Recent surveys of manufacturers consistently identify one of their top three priorities as workforce issues. Companies— regardless of size— recognize that a highly skilled, qualified workforce is critical to their success. Whether manufacturers are seeking to develop new products, enter new markets, or improve overall productivity, their workforce will be key to their ability to remain competitive and achieve their goals. Companies that are successful in attracting and retaining talented people  realize they must be pro-active and become part of their workforce  solution. Fewer young people are choosing manufacturing careers. They don’t know  the opportunities or the educational requirements.  Coupling that fact with  smaller numbers of students in high school means a smaller pool of qualified candidates for employment. To overcome that obstacle, smart manufacturers are actively engaging with educational institutions in their communities, informing students, teachers, guidance counselors and parents about the many stable and well-paying jobs they have available. Starting with middle school age students, these manufacturers are sending young scientists, engineers, technicians and machine operators to visit local classrooms and talk with students about their work. Students, teachers and parents are also invited to open houses to see the inside of plants and facilities they likely drive by on a daily basis, but have no idea of what is actually taking place inside. They tour the facility, are introduced to the young professionals in the company and see for themselves what takes place…read more >

Fabtech Expo Recap

Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer, Sonnhalter I had the opportunity to attend the Fabtech Expo in Atlanta last week. It was my second year at the show and I am continually impressed by the immensity of this industry. The expo brought together more than 27,000 attendees and 1,400 exhibitors covering more than 500,000 square feet of the Georgia World Congress Center. Fabtech kicked off on Veterans Day and it couldn't have been more fitting since Workshops for Warriors was selected as the recipient of the Fabtech Cares campaign. Workshops for Warriors is a wonderful organization that I had the pleasure of writing about last year in Production Machining magazine. Workshops for Warriors, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to training, certifying, and placing veterans in manufacturing careers. It's no secret that manufacturers are looking for new sources of talent. At the same time, many former members of our armed forces are looking for work. Workshops for Warriors combines these efforts, giving American veterans and wounded warriors the skills U.S. manufacturing employers need. Veterans who are transitioning back to civilian life provide a vastly untapped talent pool of hardworking and disciplined talent for the manufacturing industry. Fabtech hosted a panel on the first day of the show on bridging the skills gap with veterans. You can see the progress of the fundraiser (and donate) here. Reshoring of manufacturing was definitely another popular topic. The Day One keynote actually came from Cindi Marsilgio, the VP for U.S. Manufacturing at Wal-Mart. The company has pledged to buy $250 billion of products made in the USA over ten years to encourage the creation of U.S. jobs. (You can read more about the keynote and Day One highlights on Fabtech's blog.) When walking the show and helping out in various booths, I heard the question, "Where are your products made?" Many…read more >