Partnerships Offer Solutions to Skills Gap Challenges
Jeannine Kunz, Chief Workforce Development Officer, SME on
March 25, 2019
Many manufacturers recognize they are challenged with a skills gap but
don’t know where to start. One innovative way to address the need for
training is to create a collaboration between industry and education, such
as between a local manufacturer and a community college.
F&P America is a long-standing automotive supplier of specialty
functional suspension products in Troy, Ohio. F&P has been challenged
with finding workers who have the technical skills they need. To help solve
the problem, F&P turned to Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio,
to offer training to the company’s employees through Sinclair’s SkillsTrac
SkillsTrac was the result of a Department of Labor grant back in 2007,
which offered flexible training options to help address the skilled labor
shortage in the surrounding communities. When the grant ended in 2010,
F&P and other local manufacturers saw the value of skilled training and
the potential for filling their workforce needs and provided support to
sustain the program which is still going strong today.
The SkillsTrac program consists of five levels that cover mechanical,
electrical, fluid power and controls, and automation skills that are
typically found in maintenance environments in modern manufacturing
operations. The program is delivered in a hybrid, self-paced format,
combining Tooling U-SME online curriculum with hands-on lab exercises
facilitated by Sinclair instructors in Sinclair labs to allow participants
to demonstrate competency.
Since its inception in 2007, Sinclair’s SkillsTrac program has had more
than 400 students from approximately 50 employers participate in the
program. F&P has put 34 people through the program in various skills
areas, including maintenance fundamentals and industrial maintenance,
industrial electricity and fluid power, industrial controls and PLCs, and
automation systems and robotics.
The program has allowed Sinclair to meet the needs of local industry
partners by providing a flexible and effective means to develop industrial
maintenance skills within their workforce. F&P says their workers feel
invested in the company, and employee retention has increased at the
company. The program has provided a pathway to high-skilled and well-paid
jobs that can sustain and support a family, keep residents in the
community, and grow the local economy.
F&P and Sinclair Community College’s solution to the skills gap is an
innovative example of creating partnerships that benefit the local
community. It’s one of many ways to address the skills gap challenge. The
most important action manufacturers can take is just to start –
even if it’s something small.
To learn more about how other manufacturers are addressing the skills gap
in their organizations, download our Industry Pulse: 2018 Manufacturing Workforce Report.
Or listen to our recent
Industry Pulse webinar
with Michael Freed, Manager, Manufacturing Solutions, Workforce
Development, Sinclair Community College and Delane Sloan, Senior Manager of
Human Resources, F& P American.
"F&P America", "manufacturing skills gap", "Sinclair Community College", SkillsTrac, "workforce development"