In states hit hard by manufacturing skill shortages, companies are partnering with public school districts to teach K-12 students. Georgia, Florida and Tennessee all have programs that allow students to explore and learn skills in industrial trades. Manufacturing is expected to account for the largest share of new U.S. jobs created by the year 2020.
Gardner Garrick, VP of strategic initiative for The Manufacturing Institute told District Administration that programs like this allow students to learn valuable manufacturing skills while schools and companies build stronger relationships.
So far, companies like Volkswagen, Grenzebach Corp, and others allow students to experience real-life job skills in internships, while they strengthen their knowledge of STEM topics. This readies them for employment in higher paying roles.
The notion of teaching students job related skills while they are still in high school is nothing new. However, the solid commitment that the school districts have towards the future of student careers and regional industry is remarkable.
While some of the programs are new, they are already empowering young people to see careers in manufacturing in a new light. The image gap is a real problem for a variety of industries like manufacturing that require skilled workers but are still seen as unwanted, "last resort" jobs. One of the best ways to combat that perception is indeed to start while children are still in school.
What can other industries facing skill shortages do? A good start would be to work with area career centers to analyze the talent pool and then work with schools at the high school level to design fully immersive learning experiences for young people.