The voices of manufacturers have never been louder: we need talent, we need it now and we need it skilled. By 2025, there will be more than two million unfilled manufacturing jobs nationwide due to a retiring workforce and unskilled youth.
In Michigan especially, manufacturers and pro-manufacturing organizations are working to drive up interest in manufacturing careers and improve the future outlook for the industry, local communities and individual businesses like yours. The Michigan Manufacturers Association is proud to lead one such effort.
America’s manufacturing industry faces a two-fold talent challenge:
- Pipeline — A generation of baby boomers retiring from the workforce and not enough new workers entering the field to replace them
- Image — Millions of energetic young people who view manufacturing and similar skilled trades as jobs of last resort due to an educational system which highlights the four-year degree as the only true path to a long-term career
With input and advice from the MMA Talent Advisory Council, MMA entered into a partnership with two nationally recognized organizations to help address both the pipeline and image challenges. MMA is excited to announce its partnership with The Manufacturing Institute’s Dream It Do It® program and the SME Education Foundation’s Partnership Response In Manufacturing Education (PRIME®) initiative.
MMA’s Partnership with PRIME
“Our membership has been more vocal than ever about the talent challenges facing their businesses. MMA is committed to providing a viable, employer-driven solution,” says Mike Johnston, MMA’s vice president of government affairs. “Many options were explored. The SME Education Foundation’s PRIME program has a great reputation for connecting employers with educators and implementing real curriculum solutions to expand manufacturing’s talent pipeline.”
As the legitimate purchasers of the ‘product’ the educational system produces — talent — employers must maintain an active role in the development of curriculum and the selling of the real-world career opportunities available after graduation.
“Technical skill sets are available worldwide, but the resources to build locally can only be developed locally. The need for new talent must be achieved with employer input, support and focus. The need for new talent must be achieved with employer input, support and focus. PRIME responds to the needs of employers and transforms the local education system to support local job creators.”
— Bruce Schafer • Rexair LLC
The PRIME program builds a stronger talent pipeline for students and manufacturers. This “boots on the ground” strategy delivers real results. Implemented in 62 locations across 22 states, PRIME has impacted more than 30,000 students nationally. Over 90 percent of students who graduate from a PRIME school go on to pursue either further education or a career in manufacturing.
This successful career-readiness program can boost Michigan’s already strong manufacturing presence and provide much-needed support to an industry seeking a large influx of new talent.
“Technical skills sets are available worldwide, but the resources to build locally can only be developed locally,” says Bruce Schafer, vice president of manufacturing for Cadillac-based Rexair LLC and a member of the MMA Talent Advisory Council. “The need for new talent must be achieved with employer input, support, and focus. PRIME responds to the needs of employers and transforms the local education system to support local job creators.”
Combining PRIME’s proven success with the Manufacturing Institute’s robust messaging strategy, MMA members and manufacturers across the state will be provided a more direct connection with local educators and a more efficient method for getting students access to the hands-on knowledge and skills they need to pursue a well-paying career.
“With strong support from legislative leaders like Sen. Jim Stamas, Sen. Wayne Schmidt, and Rep. Joe Tate, Rep. Beth Griffin, and Rep. Brad Paquette, and the backing of Governor Gretchen Whitmer, state policy is changing to address the manufacturing skills shortage, said Johnston. “The state needs more CTE programs to remain economically competitive with other states.”
SME’s Education Foundation: The Minds Behind PRIME
The SME Education Foundation inspires, prepares and supports young people in their pursuit of advanced manufacturing career pathways. Through the PRIME program, the Foundation is fostering the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technologists.
“We are making an impact in securing our nation’s future competitiveness and economic prosperity by helping to build a pipeline of skilled and STEM-capable workers,” says Brian Glowiak, vice president of the SME Education Foundation. “PRIME was established to build and engage a collaborative network of manufacturers, educators and students to help bridge the skills gap manufacturers are experiencing both today and into the future.”
By connecting people who are passionate about manufacturing and inspiring future generations is what they do best SME is the intersection of manufacturing technology and workforce development.
MMA and SME: Michigan’s Winning Talent Solution
MMA and the SME Education Foundation’s PRIME program provide a proven hiring solution for manufacturing companies across Michigan and real-world training for the students who want to graduate, find a good career, and set down roots in Michigan.
Here are five ways this partnership will make that possible:
- A shared goal. MMA and SME members include manufacturing leaders, world-renowned researchers and educators, who all want to share their knowledge and experience through PRIME mentorship opportunities.
- National manufacturing events and networking. PRIME students can attend student summits held across the country. These summits connect students, parents and educators to interact face-to-face with representatives of the very companies who utilize revolutionary technologies and create business-changing innovations.
- Training materials and curriculum. Resources from Tooling U-SME, the industry leader in manufacturing training, is available to designated PRIME schools. Working with more than half of all Fortune 500 manufacturing companies, and several hundred community colleges and high schools, there are training and certification options available in almost every area of manufacturing.
- Digital and print publications that share vital information. PRIME students and manufacturing professionals benefit from Advanced Manufacturing Media, which produces relevant industry news, technology and advances. This information can improve students’ ability to make decisions in an intensely competitive global environment.
- SME student membership. PRIME students receive complementary SME membership, providing access to technical information on state-of-the-art manufacturing processes and applications and networking opportunities to help them land their first job.
The MMA/PRIME partnership offers manufacturers an opportunity to invest in themselves and in the development of their future workforce by participating in informational meetings across the state to learn more about this rare, exciting opportunity.
“We are meeting with manufacturers to demonstrate how PRIME can effectively prepare their future workforce through an educational model that is uniquely tailored to local communities based on the express needs of local industry,” says Glowiak. “By implementing PRIME, manufacturers can influence the educational process by offering insight into the technological and curricula requirements to train future qualified workers.”
Get Involved: What Can My Business Do?
Manufacturers must be proactive community leaders in the development of new strategies, new talent initiatives and policy changes to promote the industry as what it is: exciting, high-paying, high-tech hubs for creativity and innovation.
“The PRIME program is generally implemented over a period of three years at each high school in order to develop career pathways and facilitate teacher training, equipment installations and other infrastructure required for a successful and sustainable education program,” says Glowiak.
The PRIME program recognizes that manufacturers come in all shapes and sizes, creating customizable tools that meet the unique needs of your community. Manufacturers can provide sponsorships, serve on advisory boards, offer job shadowing and apprenticeships, engage their employees with students through mentoring, and by providing employment opportunities to graduating students.
This exciting opportunity to boost your talent pipeline and the image of manufacturing careers is happening now! Make sure your community has the tools and resources necessary to combat manufacturing’s top talent challenges both now and in the future.