HENRY COUNTY, VA – The Society of Manufacturing Engineers announced a new initiative involving a partnership with community and technical colleges to address the manufacturing industry’s workforce shortage and skills gap crisis.
The Manufacturing Imperative – Workforce Pipeline Challenge launches this Fall and combines the expertise of SME and a select group of community and technical colleges, including Patrick & Henry Community College.
The initiative builds awareness of careers in manufacturing, optimizes workforce systems and accelerates the education and skill development needed to place individuals in jobs making family-sustaining wages, according to SME.
SME says it will work with schools to conduct a labor analysis of the local, regional, and state landscape to develop and expand sector strategies to attract new populations, particularly those under-served and under-represented in the workforce.
This will help implement new programs, curriculum and applicable certifications to develop skilled individuals that are ready to hire for the vast array of growing, unfilled positions in manufacturing.
“Through the Manufacturing Imperative-Workforce Pipeline Challenge, we look forward to sharing our best practices and learning from others, a model of collaboration at the heart of community colleges, in order to address the labor force challenges for the manufacturing industry. While P&HCC enjoys strong partnerships with manufacturers in our region, we are excited to add national resources, like SME and their partners, to our work,” said Rhonda Hodges, P&HCC Vice President for Workforce, Economic & Community Development.
The three-year pilot program has a goal to attract 1,000 individuals at each of the initial 25 participating schools annually, resulting in 75,000 or more qualified workers in pursuit of manufacturing careers, SME said.
According to SME, the estimated economic impact of growing the industry’s workforce in this way is $6 billion.
Best practices identified throughout the program will be shared nationally to help other programs implement innovative solutions to grow local economies, reduce barriers to employment, and fill vacant manufacturing jobs.