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We hear it a lot: Shop floor jobs are plentiful, but skilled workers to fill them are not. Are we (collectively, as an industry) doing anything to improve the situation? We certainly are, but it’s a long journey that requires perseverance.
In a column in December’s Production Machining, PMPA Executive Director Mike Duffin cites several examples of shops that are leading the way with training programs and partnerships with technical colleges and other institutions, as well as with each other, to address this need.
In another example, Dayton Progress Corporation (Dayton, Ohio) offers a Manufacturing Challenge competition aimed at promoting careers in manufacturing to high school students. This year’s winner, Greene County Career Center (Xenia, Ohio) received a scholarship grant valued at $40,000, providing its facility with three new computers (and monitors) equipped with up-to-date CAD packages, training for faculty, and five $1,000 student scholarships for Sinclair Community College’s skilled manufacturing program. In addition, Dayton Progress is hiring four local high school seniors for after-school internships with the intended result of full-time employment after graduation.
In a similar program (but broader scale), Ronald Olkowski, a student at Ferris State University (Big Rapids, Mich.) has been chosen to represent the United States in Leipzig, Germany, in the CNC turning competition during the biennial WorldSkills Competition in July 2013. Mr. Olkowski was recently awarded the bronze medal in CNC turning during the WorldSkills Americas competition in Brazil, where the U.S. competed against 23 other countries. Besides meeting people from around the world and learning more about their approach to manufacturing, this competition is giving Mr. Olkowski the opportunity to see new types of machine tools and become more familiar with related software and processes.
Programs such as these can be major stepping stones for garnering interest in manufacturing and preparing young adults for careers in our industry. The more companies such as Dayton Progress that take it on themselves to contribute to this learning process, the sooner we can expect the pain of the shortage of skilled shopfloor employees to stop being a drag on our industry, and therefore, our economy.