We have been hearing the same troubling news for a while now: the manufacturing industry is in serious need of people with technical and mechanical skills, yet there seems to be a major shortage of workers with these abilities. This lack of ability is popularly referred to as the “skill gap,” and it is felt throughout America with evidence of hundreds of available manufacturing jobs with no workers able to fill these positions. So how do we remedy this situation? We at Leading Edge Industrial believe that the best way to increase technical knowledge is to actively involve the manufacturing industry in our classrooms. By directly involving the manufacturing industry with programs like partnerships and apprenticeships, we believe that the industry will see a surge of new, innovative talent eager to fill machinist positions.
How Can the Manufacturing Industry Influence Technically/Mechanically Inclined Students?
It seems like there is a constant push in our schools geared toward studies like math and English, yet mechanically-oriented students who excel in hands-on learning environments are often disadvantaged. Listed below are some of the ways in which the manufacturing industry can influence students to pursue technical skills.
- Apprenticeships: To teach students valuable skills and encourage more students to pursue technical fields, schools can directly pair with manufacturing companies to offer apprenticeships. With an apprenticeship, a student can be placed in a real work environment and receive tailored attention while learning certain industrial processes.
- Industry Sponsorships: Though manufacturing holds a huge position in US economics, many schools find themselves unable to afford the equipment to provide shop classes. To help encourage mechanical skills, local manufacturing companies should partner with schools and help provide machinery and information. Leading Edge Industrial provides portable, cost-efficient CNC machines to help schools and shops run both efficiently and economically.
- Guest Speakers: Though lectures and textbook readings can be interesting and informative, a guest speaker/presentation can provide an illustrative and compelling insight into the benefits of working in the mechanical field. By demonstrating the unique possibilities available with a technical career, students can be given a persuasive look at how dynamic the manufacturing field can be.
- Provide Scholarships: Unfortunately, the cost of technical programs at colleges or trade schools can be quite expensive. To help encourage students to join the mechanical industry, manufacturing companies can sponsor internships to financially support students, as well as spread the notion that technical pursuits are valuable.
Why Should Students be Encouraged to Pursue Mechanical Fields?
With the “skill gap” in the United States a constant problem, workers with technical/mechanical skills are being hotly sought after to fill desired positions—positions that necessitate ingenuity and creativity. The mechanical fields also support our local and national economies by providing jobs and increasing the export power of the US. In fact, for every $1.00 spent in the manufacturing industry, another $1.89 is added to the entire economy – that is the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector (Source: NAM calculations using IMPLAN). The buck doesn’t stop there, though, for every one worker in manufacturing, there are another 3.4 employees hired elsewhere. In addition, mechanical fields also produce cutting edge equipment, products, and technologies. With increasingly complex technology, we need engineers/machinists to design and produce machinery that meets the desires of tomorrow—desires that require creativity and forward thinking.
At Leading Edge Industrial, we know the value that machinists can bring. With the support of local manufacturing industries, mechanical/technical education can become a common feature in schools across the US—a feature that encourages students who are eager to both build and create.
National Association of Manufacturers (http://www.nam.org/Newsroom/Top-20-Facts-About-Manufacturing/)