Elizabeth Modic

I know it’s summer when temperatures are up and our office is filled with college interns. Each year GIE Media employs editorial and graphic interns, helping them gain hands-on, real-life experience. It’s in our company’s culture to give back to our surrounding community – we do so in various manners throughout the year – and providing an apprenticeship platform for the next generation of workers delivers benefits beyond our company walls.

Training, internships, and apprenticeships help all industries. For our company, we often hire past summer interns who, already familiar with our products and company culture, start their career more prepared, confident, and ready to contribute. Wherever our former interns land after college, our goal is to have helped ready them to contribute from day one on the job.

Manufacturing has this same need for upskilled, educated workers.

According to a report from Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) in partnership with JPMorgan Chase & Co., “Upskilling and Downsizing in American Manufacturing,” the 1970 glory days of American manufacturing – when workers with a high school diploma or less held 79% of the industry jobs – will not return. And, with 2 million jobs for high school-educated workers lost, the odds of working in manufacturing with a high school diploma or less have been cut in half. This is not doom and gloom. Manufacturing remains the largest provider of jobs employing workers with less than a bachelor’s degree, but it’s important to address that today’s workers need higher, more varied skills to leverage advancing technology.

Kate Johnson, president of Microsoft US, recently touched on the subject, writing about technology’s effect on industry innovations: “It’s no surprise that people are at the core of digital transformation. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the manufacturing industry, where leaders who are embracing digital transformation are faced with addressing a significant skills gap and an aging workforce… and even the most skilled existing manufacturing employees need new tech skills to remain competitive.” Johnson says that cultural transformation is at the heart of any digital transformation, manufacturing being no exception, and that embracing advanced technology can transform the workforce, close the skills gap, advance modern roles, reskill, and empower the first-line worker.

Manufacturers are stepping up to address these challenges. One such approach is the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith partnership with ABB for the state’s first Youth Apprenticeship Program for advance manufacturing, developing programs alongside the business community to equip students with critical, in-demand skills. Also Pennsylvania’s Northampton Community College (NCC) received a new round of state funding to provide unemployed or underemployed workers with the opportunity to gain skills for in-demand manufacturing positions.

Manufacturers are helping educate, train, and upskill – what is your company doing to address the skills gap??

Elizabeth Engler Modic, Editor