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Workforce and Manufacturing’s Image, Progress in 2013?

As the NextGen Infrastructure editor at Automation World, I’ve noticed that the topic of U.S. infrastructure is getting a lot of attention in the national media these days.

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Media reports point to the lack of manufacturing skills in the U.S. and, lately, how reshoring is bringing jobs back home. The latter is the good news, but what about improved skills and, in general, manufacturing’s image? Are we moving in the right direction?

At a recent McGladrey Manufacturing and Distribution Executive Summit, held in Chicago, a session titled, “Addressing the Workforce and the Skills Gap” provided some next steps and answers to those questions. Warren Young, CEO of ACME Industries, spoke to attendees and pointed out that community colleges and vocational training are low-hanging fruit in the skills equation. Young’s company and 49 other manufacturers collaborated with Palatine, Ill.-based Harper Community College to create an Advanced Manufacturing internship program in September 2012. Its aim is to help “replenish the pipeline of skilled workers” for advanced manufacturing.

The program is a two-semester program that concentrates on math and safety education in the first semester and the second semester lands the student in a manufacturing environment. There, the student will work 16 hours/week, learn actual skills and get paid for their work. Young added that manufacturers are not used to such internships and are learning too.

The goal of the program is to have students complete a second semester and be ready to work after it. The Harper program also encourages younger students to consider a manufacturing career by offering college credit to high school students. This program is part of the Department of Labor’s $2 billion Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant, which supports partnerships between community colleges and employers.

A bigger spotlight on manufacturing in 2013 looks to be a certainty and that’s a great sign for everyone. This intern program may not fill the 600,000 advanced manufacturing jobs available right now, but it’s going in the right direction.

--Grant Gerke
Digital Managing Editor

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2012 Most Popular Stories by PAGE VIEWS:

Recipe for a Robust Ethernet Network
Ethernet has become the de facto standard network in many industries, and its use at the input/output (I/O) level has become common. Also, since Ethernet is used by both enterprise and industrial systems, it has become the focal point for the age-old battle between automation/control engineers and information technology (IT) engineers.
Visit http://bit.ly/awfeat070

Streaming Video into HMI/SCADA
Video integration is easier than ever, and new applications keep cropping up. Here’s what you need to know if you want to add live digital video feeds to operator control panels.
Visit http://bit.ly/awfeat067

Proper Use of Standard Cost Methods Enhances EfficiencyUsing standard costing techniques, manufacturing managers can more efficiently measure costs of goods sold, and allow for more effective budgeting and price setting on future jobs.
Visit http://bit.ly/awslant026

Network Determinism: Not Just for Motion Anymore
Engineers know that Ethernet is a stable and well-known industrial network, but building determinism into the network to enable control has been an issue that is now solvable.
Visit http://bit.ly/awfeat061

Most Popular Videos in 2013:

Wireless Funding, Approval and Implementation Management
Visit http://bit.ly/awvid102

Simulation for Assembly: Inside the Auto Show
Visit http://bit.ly/awvids056

The Future of Industrial Computing – Thin Clients?
Visit http://bit.ly/awvids080

Workforce: Automation as a Profession
Visit http://bit.ly/awvid103

>> Grant Gerke, ggerke@automationworld.com, is Digital Managering Editor of Automation World

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