The Collaborative Path to Workforce Solutions

Posted By: Jeannine Kunz, Vice President, Tooling U-SME on June 27, 2017

I’ve been reminded this month of the importance of collaboration, of partnerships to advance and support manufacturing – specifically, the current workforce development challenges facing us.

It’s opportunity, of course, in the guise of challenge. Opportunity for partnerships with industry, small enterprises, education, advocacy and training groups like SME to work together and find meaningful solutions. Opportunity for government at every level to engage and support: to participate in the creation of solutions. It may be the most important work of our careers.

Jeannine Kunz, Vice President, Tooling U-SME

Jeannine Kunz, Vice President,
Tooling U-SME

I’ve discussed the recent “Workforce Development Week” awareness efforts of the White House. With hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs going unfilled because of a large and growing American workforce skills gap, it’s not enough for those of us in industry to be aware of the challenge and working on solutions. We welcome other strong voices to the table and to the discussion.

Similarly, I attended the Mackinac Policy Conference earlier this month, an annual Michigan policy event that brings together thousands of state and national business, government, education, and civic leaders, as well as the news media, to discuss critical issues affecting one of America’s most important industrial regions. I came away from discussions at the conference with Michigan’s top automotive stakeholders and C-Suite influencers knowing they also share concern about the availability of a well-qualified labor force, from engineering to the production line. Those strong voices have joined the discussion too, and are seeking solutions.

So, while I’m encouraged about the rising awareness of the skills gap in America, I’m really impressed with the productive gains that happen when those discussions culminate in a concerted and united effort by industry, academia and organizations to provide those solutions.

Just this week, Shape Corp. announced a collaboration with SME Education Foundation’s Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education (PRIME®) initiative and Grand Haven Area Public Schools to develop and launch an advanced manufacturing education program at Grand Haven High School in Grand Haven, Michigan, beginning in the 2018 academic year. PRIME engages regional manufacturers to identify their current and future workforce development needs and then works with local school districts to design and implement customized educational programs to meet these requirements.

That partnership is a great example of what can be done when awareness, need and action align: there is opportunity to attract creative, promising young minds to manufacturing; opportunity to share knowledge and skills; and economic opportunity for young men and women.

We’re making progress. I’m appreciative of the increased awareness of government, academia and indeed our industry leaders of the current and growing skills gap - and the creative, proactive and productive efforts by many at the forefront of solutions.

If you’re interested in partnering to find solutions; to attract, train and retain qualified employees for long-term economic prosperity, please reach out to us at 866.706.8665.

Tags: "Grand Haven Area Public Schools", "Grand Haven High School", "Mackinac Policy Conference", "manufacturing jobs", "Shape Corp.", "skills gap", "SME Education Foundation", "White House", "Workforce Development Week"