Building an Industry 4.0 Career Pathway

Posted By: Sue Mueller, Workforce Development Specialist, Tooling U-SME on October 29, 2019

Building an Industry 4.0 Career Pathway

Recently I attended the 31st annual National Coalition of Advanced Technology Center (NCATC) conference, “Moving Industry 4.0 Forward: Models for Competency-Based Credentialing and Career Pathways.”

Topics included everything from “Raising the Bar Through Competency Training” to “AI, VR and SIM: New Tools for Technical Education” and “Industry Recognized Apprenticeship,” all of which offered ways to build career pathways for the next-generation workforce.

The overreaching message was the importance of collaboration to close the manufacturing opportunity gaps. “Partnerships” was the buzzword throughout the three days – in workshops, keynote presentations, and even during lunch conversations and evening activities.

Everyone seems to understand the benefit of getting industry’s input in the development of curriculum that will ultimately help fill their workforce pipeline and meet skill and knowledge requirements. But there needs to be so much more to these partnerships.

Creating Career Pathways

Consensus among conference delegates was that the manufacturing industry needs to be invested in the process of creating career pathways for successful job candidates. Manufacturers can do this by offering job shadowing, participating in job fairs, serving on advisory boards or Business and Industry Leadership Teams (BILTs), and getting to know the students and their needs, as these students may be future employees. Manufacturers also need to understand the new generation, and reconsider their onboarding processes, work environment and employee engagement.

Educational institutions need to be dedicated to managing the numerous resources provided, not only by working with the manufacturing industry, but also by working with community and government organizations for potential funding; engaging with credential, pre-apprenticeship, apprenticeship and intern programs; and reaching out to underserved youth to make a difference in the community.

Conference attendees agree that innovative, strategic, and collaborative partnerships are the new norm when it comes to training the next generation of manufacturing workforce workers.

Collaboration is Key

The new ideal for education-industry-community partnerships was highlighted in many of the sessions including:

  • Raising the Bar Through Competency Training. This session focused on how a large manufacturing company, Daikin Applied Faribault, partnered with education (South Central College) to provide assessments and certifications to build training programs. Tooling U-SME online curriculum was designed for candidates, and training was relevant to necessary job tasks. By partnering with South Central College. Daikin has been successful in educating 37 incumbent employees in mechatronics and NIMS Certifications.
  • Keynote speaker Deon Clark, Chief Executive Officer at TCI Solutions. Clark explained how TCI’s Legacy 1 Model not only connects the company with education but takes it a step further. By doing important outreach in the community, TCI works toward its goal of finding a diverse and underserved community, and giving them the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter critical workforce positions. TCI’s process is rooted in the idea that any industry or organization can participate in developing every kind of individual into a high-quality employment candidate.
  • Industry Recognized Apprenticeship. In this session, participants heard how a partnership between NextFlex and Evergreen College is solving the problem of increased demand for advanced manufacturing employees in their area. By aligning and onboarding a manufacturing ecosystem partnership that leverages a network of services, talent and ideas, the partners created a more cohesive method to meet the needs of manufacturing employees. Together, they engaged industry and higher education – as well as high schools and middle schools – to grow the manufacturing pipeline through the IRAP approach which allows industry to get involved in talent creation.

Also helping to close the manufacturing workforce opportunity gap are intermediaries such as SME’s PRIME schools initiative , Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEPs), and community and technical colleges, which are all about bringing together stakeholders that don’t compete, but instead collaborate to provide a skilled workforce for the future.

To learn more about how to attract and retain the next-generation workforce, download our recent report, “ 6 Ways to Build a Cohesive Multigenerational Manufacturing Workforce.”



Tags: "advisory board", apprenticeship, "Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT)", "community and technical college", "competency training", Daikin, "Evergreen College", "Industry-Recognized Apprenticeships (IRAP)", "Legacy 1 model", "Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)", "manufacturing partnerships", "National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC)", NextFlex, pre-apprenticeship, "PRIME Schools", "South Central College", "underserved community", "underserved youth"