Students & Workplace Success

Kentucky introduces its first regional academy for students who are interested in engineering, software technology and advanced manufacturing fields. The academy gives students the opportunity to focus their studies on technical education and teaches them how to operate in the workforce by teaching skills employers say they want. When students graduate, they will be incredibly work-ready.

As the retirement rate is expected to increase over the next 10 years, it’s critical to bring in new talent. That’s why programs like Rockford School District’s Summer Manufacturing Program have launched; to prepare students for jobs in manufacturing and engineering technology. As a partner in the program, Rock Valley College is helping students become workforce ready.

As a partner of the non-profit organization Alamo Academies, Alamo Colleges is helping high school students obtain industry-approved certifications and paid internships in various fields, including Advanced Technology & Manufacturing. Alamo Academies is dedicated to closing the skills gap, so that industry can continue to thrive. Toyota, one of the industry partners involved in the program, has provided workers the technical skills needed for advanced manufacturing operations, including troubleshooting and repairing robotics.

In partnership with the Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Rock Valley College offers TechWorks – a fast-track program that provides students with skills and credentials needed to qualify for a computer numerical control machine operator assembly job. Find out if TechWorks is a good fit for you and how to get started in the program.

The idea that the only way to a well-paying career was to attend a four year university, made students wary about manufacturing jobs. Coupled with the recession, community colleges found enrollment in technical and manufacturing degrees down. The upswing from the recession has finally come though. Employers are seeking skilled workers to fill open positions and colleges are implementing new programs to ready the middle-skill workforce.

Challenged with finding skilled workers to fill positions, Toyota teamed with BridgeValley Community & Technical College to launch the Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program. In the program, students gain crucial knowledge and training needed by today's manufacturers. Learn more about the partnership and the program's success at BridgeValley's website.

Students in advanced manufacturing and industrial technologies programs at Spartanburg Community College can’t finish fast enough for employee recruiters waiting with job offers, Students at the college have access to the state’s largest campus inventory of robots, 10 of them, and the program is one of 13 nationally in the Multi-State Advanced Manufacturing Consortium. The consortium’s hands-on, project-based approach requires students to show instructors they are learning skills, which is much better than having them spend hours-and-hours in a classroom and then not knowing if they can or cannot perform a skill.

Rockford Public Schools gave high school students the chance to tour local companies and see manufacturing in action. Gabriel Loury, a senior at Jefferson was impressed with what he saw, saying, "You really get to go in depth, you really get to see what's done, how it's done, what kind of environment you'll be able to work in, what you need to get into this sort of field." The tours were part of Rockford Public Schools efforts to get students interested in manufacturing.

A 4-step plan for career success.

In this emerging world, professions increasingly demand a combination of academic knowledge and technical ability. How can you align your career with your skills and knowledge, and available job opportunities to become successful? The Spartanburg Community College Foundation in partnership with Wells Fargo shares a 4-step plan in Aligning for Success. Watch the video below.

Graduates from Alamo Colleges Advanced Manufacturing Technician Program were recently hired by Toyota. As students they had been working in the Toyota plant as part of their program. The AMT program developed by Toyota and Alamo Colleges culminates in a manufacturing degree that combines classroom instruction and hands-on experience at the Toyota facility. This program currently operates in eight states with over 100 students participating. The earning potential of an AMT degree is up to $50,000 plus benefits.

Coaching the Coaches

M-SAMC and Rhodes State College welcomed Dr. Michele Scott Taylor from College Now to host Participant Engagement Facilitator Training. The training is the first in a series of workshops and webinars aimed at improving the educational pathway for advanced manufacturing students. Participant Engagement Facilitators (PEFs), also known as Student Success Coaches,  and others from M-SAMC partner colleges collaborated on strategies to help students succeed in their college studies and in the workplace.

There is a disparity between workforce demands and worker preparation, and unless policymakers make moves to bridge the gap, young adults could face a harsh future.  Government data show there are nearly 5 million unfilled jobs nationwide, while research from Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce estimates there are nearly as many millennials out of work.  The jobs are there – it's just the skills that are missing.


Georgia State University is using predictive analytics to project how an individual student might fare in different programs and majors.  The University of Texas system also has developed a tool that allows prospective students to browse data on outcomes:  future earnings, student loan debt and places of employment – based on individual majors at each of the system's campuses.


Technological developments can help correct the misalignment between colleges and employers.  Though schools will have to become more creative with their delivery methods by using online and competency-based programs, nanodegrees or stackable credentials.

Five strategies for strengthening the talent supply chain in the manufacturing industry:

1. Take advantage of digital technologies to make skills training available any time, anywhere.

2. Collaborate with educational institutions to upskill current employees and build a pipeline of future skilled workers.

3. Build standardized skill sets and employee engagement using certification programs.

4. Utilize apprenticeships to build a highly skilled workforce.

5. Expand the candidate pool by hiring for potential rather than "perfect" fit.

A 2011 report published by The Manufacturing Institute shared that as many as 600,000 manufacturing jobs went unfilled that year because employers couldn't find the skilled workers to fill them. This is a remarkable fact as the country is facing an unemployment rate that hovers above 9%.


One reason for the skills gap is that the national education curriculum is not producing workers with the basic skills they need. Industry respondents indicate inadequate problem-solving skills as the most serious skill deficiency.


Companies must incorporate competency modeling into their training and recruitment initiatives. Companies must understand what skills they really need and then use targeted training approaches to make sure their workforce is prepared to train and deliver.


Public policy changes and participation by local community colleges must also occur. Where companies should consider their proximity to educational and research facilities, government agencies and educational institutions should create a clear path for students to receive the right skills and training for manufacturing jobs.

Obama has championed the manufacturing and “advanced" manufacturing sectors as viable, rewarding career paths for Americans. His administration supports an apprenticeship program for modern manufacturing, encourages startups to build products in the U.S., and has launched a plan to create a network of up to 15 regional Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation. Overall, his administration is getting young people involved in "making" to spur the resurgence of the manufacturing industry, and growth throughout the U.S.


With science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), critical thinking and problem-solving abilities high on the president's list of skills that must be attained by American youth in order to succeed in the 21st century global economy, it is easy to see why Obama would embrace the Maker Movement, which promotes entrepreneurship, creativity, exploration, innovation, failure (yes, it's OK to fail!), teamwork and self-directed learning.

More than 75% of manufacturers report a moderate to severe shortage of skilled resources. Given the financial impact of the skills shortage, it is not surprising that companies are investing more in training programs.


Steps taken by industry leaders, to successfully address the manufacturing skills shortage, include:  partnering with local community colleges and organizations to offer online, remote, and formal skills training to existing workers, building pipelines to employment for future workers, and using a certification approach to skills building.

A shortage in workers with skills in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) cause desirable jobs to go unfilled. Improving educational and training opportunities to acquire STEM knowledge should be part of any strategy to help unemployed or low-wage workers improve their earnings and employability.

The role of trust in a team involves more than just telling the truth; it involves following through on commitments, helping the team succeed, and knowing when and when not to commit.

Today's manufacturers, whether they are making cars, airplanes, or iPhone parts, are looking for engineers, designers, machinists and computer programmers. Many of the jobs pay well—the average manufacturing worker in the United States earned $77,505 in 2012, including pay and benefits—but they can be hard to fill.

The Engineering Innovation Blue Card(TM) process helps solve company problems by defining priorities. The next time you're asked to help solve a problem, start by answering the questions below; the answers will help you focus and may lead to an innovative solution.

* Does this problem represent a new opportunity or a system improvement?

* Does it require a leap far into the future to solve?

* Is the solution needed immediately?

* Is this a problem for the entire company or one department?

* Why focus our energy on it now?

* What might we try next?

The greater issue of establishing new ways of thinking about labor and management must be addressed by every city hoping to rebuild its manufacturing base.

Manufacturing and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs are responding to industry demands for graduates who are prepared to succeed in the ever-changing workplace of tomorrow and today. Through Program Based Learning (PBL) Projects, students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, the ability to work in teams, and the ability to transfer skills and knowledge to new situations.

American automotive companies need to balance the needs and demands of customers, investors, regulators, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the public. But without pressure, there would be no diamonds. Tough competition makes efficiency, inventiveness, flexibility and decisiveness mandatory.

The Accenture 2014 Manufacturing Skills and Training Study found that 82% of U.S. manufacturers surveyed plan to increase production and more than 50% of companies surveyed plan to increase U.S.-based production by at least 5% in the next five years.

"Aligning Education with Employer Needs"

Multi-State Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (M-SAMC)

5101 Evergreen Road, Dearborn, MI 48128

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This workforce solution was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The solution was created by the grantee and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership.

*AMTEC is supported entirely by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technology Education (ATE) Program Grant (0903193). (AMTEC,NSF ATE DUE-0903193)