The manufacturing industry has long been calling for a boost in education to help prepare students for a career in manufacturing. Many students graduating high school and college are in an up-roar that when they graduate, there’s no one willing to hire them. There seems to be a piece of the puzzle missing to connect the growing number of manufacturing jobs and the students that are searching for employment after graduation. According to a study done by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, six out of ten production jobs remain unfilled because of the talent shortage. Even if a manufacturer receives applications for these positions, a majority are less than qualified to fill these job openings.
The first concern is the lack of exposure manufacturing careers receive throughout a student’s educational career. Programs such as Manufacturing Day, which is coming up October 7th, and a number of other initiatives throughout the country are focused on bringing more attention to this critical industry. These programs are doing an amazing job when it comes to showing what opportunities are out there in the manufacturing industry, but there is still a serious disconnect between education and the emerging talent pool.
Manufacturers are saying these young adults entering the workforce aren’t qualified, and the new comers to the workforce are lost on how to gain the necessary skills to get their foot in the door. High schools all around the country have been cutting shop classes and this is doing a serious disservice to our nations youths. Without having access to classes where students can get behind manufacturing equipment and learn hands-on, they’re leaving school with none of the necessary skills to walk onto the shop floor. What can manufacturers do to cultivate their own talent pool? Apprenticeships can be the answer.
Germany in particular has found incredible success from their apprenticeship programs, offering students and young adults the chance to see how a manufacturing facility runs and get them experience on the shop floor. Businesses need employees with some idea of our these industrial facilities work, how to handle the machinery and how to work safely in an industrial environment. American manufacturers have so much to gain from opening their own apprenticeship programs but so few have their own in-house programs.
Think of all the benefits that come with being able to mold young minds around a specific industrial process and facility. Even if an individual comes out of a vocational school, they may have been trained on different equipment than what can be found in an employer’s facility. There will still be a learning curve that would not exist if a person was trained at their potential future employers facility.
Apprentices can gain an in-depth understanding of a specific facility, process or production line that would have been impossible with any other form of education or training. Beyond the ability to hit the ground running after an apprenticeship program is over, loyalty to the company that offered them the skills they need to thrive in the industry will remain.
Apprenticeship programs can offer manufacturers a way to cultivate their own talent, fill open manufacturing positions and help improve employee retention. The benefits of apprenticeship programs will far outweigh any investments a business may make in order to jump-start their program. Furthermore, there are numerous government incentive programs that can help offset some of the costs a business may face when starting their own apprenticeship program. It may be time for manufacturers to take the talent pool into their own hands.