Go Non-Traditional with Training

Posted By: Krista Maurer on April 26, 2016

Nearly nine out of 10 manufacturers (88 percent) said their company is having problems finding skilled workers in manufacturing, according to Tooling U-SME’s upcoming Readiness Assessment Insights Report (shhhh…don’t tell that we are sharing this stat early!).

That skilled labor gap is impacting quality, innovation, profitability and more. And, you’ve heard it before: this shortage is expected to increase by the year 2021.

What to do? Act! Some manufacturers and educators across the country are already building strong training programs for non-traditional students and seeing great success.

For instance, Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Flexible Manufacturing (RCBI) in West Virginia says about 80 percent of its student body is comprised of veterans, dislocated workers looking for new careers, and underemployed workers looking for better opportunities.

With manufacturing jobs making up 6.4 percent of West Virginia’s total employment, RCBI is helping local manufacturers tap into these workers and look at innovative ways to address this skills gap by offering:

  • General and customized training courses that include its Machinist Technology/CNC Program (provides college degree option)
  • Model apprenticeship programs (with a US Department of Labor grant, its program is expanding nationwide)
  • Additive Manufacturing concentration in the Engineering Design Technology program, introduced with one of its higher education partners, Mountwest Community & Technical College

RCBI also is committed to enhancing opportunities for women. “We want more women to discover the rewarding and lucrative careers available in manufacturing,” said Lucinda Curry, director of workforce development at RCBI.

To build awareness, RCBI works with diverse groups including Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW), and presents summer camps and participates in career and job fairs that emphasize today’s “new manufacturing” to help mirror the reality of today’s production lines and shop floors.

It’s not just adults and non-traditional workers who benefit from RCBI initiatives. RCBI is stimulating interest in entrepreneurism and “making things” through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities introduced at an early age. With hands-on learning and outlets for youthful creativity through LEGO robotics events and 3D Printing Camps, RCBI is attracting future generations to this exciting industry.

And, did I mention that RCBI boasts a job placement rate of 90 percent, a great advantage for its diverse students?

Now it’s your turn to take a non-traditional approach to training. Go!

-- Krista Maurer, Government & Education Group, Tooling U-SME