Key problems that face manufacturers and other employers of skilled workers also plague those responsible for economic development.
- There aren’t enough technical workers to go around. 2011 Deloitte study shows 600,000 unfilled jobs. In 2015 Deloitte projects the gap to be 2 million by 2025!
- New technical graduates are underskilled and not work-ready. Lack a comprehensive technical skill set. “Soft skills,” such as attendance, communication, initiative, problem solving are challenged. Less skilled than new technical graduates in Europe and Asia.
- The unfilled skilled worker gap is widening as new technology creates new jobs that didn’t exist before, which also go unfilled. 2015 Deloitte study estimates 700,000 new jobs by 2025 due to technology growth. Problem No. 1 worsens.
- The Silver Tsunami Age is disproportionately high among current skilled workers. As current workers age out and retire Prob. No. 1 becomes much worse.
The impact on economic development?
If your region does not have skilled workers, current businesses will be reluctant – or can’t – expand, and new businesses will look elsewhere to find workers.
A company may decide that they cannot obtain skilled workers in an area not because they aren’t available – in fact, in most areas technical schools churn out graduates every year – but because the skills of those new graduates are not high enough. The definition of “skill” has broadened in recent years as employers take ever more keen looks at what talent really means and what has real impact. They find that what many think of as ‘soft’ skills are as critical in the workplace as the hard skills. Unfortunately, often enough even the hard skill training fall short.
If the age profile of skilled workers in your area matches the national profile, you are facing a dramatic loss of existing skilled talent in your area. This both makes the skill gap worse, and directly impacts the productivity, and subsequent contribution to the local economy, of you existing businesses.
The AMT Program – Advanced Manufacturing Technician – may be a solution for the problems that you face. It is, by its design, the answer that most manufacturers and employers of technical talent crave when considering their talent needs. It was designed to directly address the key problems above. A recent documentary, featured on Time, Inc. and Fortune’s websites, called it “The Model of the Future.”
What About the AMT Program?
- It’s a very different kind of educational model and activity. It needs to be because, by and large, the current system for producing technical talent in the U.S. is not meeting the need (a key contributor to “availability of skilled talent” being the No. 1 consideration for employers siting new growth).
- Employers are highly engaged in up-front recruiting, a key factor that helps to ensure that enough candidates apply to the program to ultimately meet staffing needs (resolves Problems No. 1 and 3, above).
- “Soft skills” (called “Professional Behaviors”) and the “Competitive Competencies” (safety culture, visual workplace organization, problem solving, and more) are intentionally structured into the core content, in addition to the already present techn ology.
- Employers “own” the program. It was visioned, designed, and implement by employers, making it much more effective in meeting real world employer needs.
- The work/study component is one of the most powerful aspects. Students literally go to school one day and work the next day, seeing immediately application of what they have learned in the classroom in the hands-on working environment. 1800 hours of real-world work is the minimum in the program, with most students logging well over 3000 hours of work experience.
- Over 70% of students who start, on the average, graduate, and do that on time. That is dramatically higher than the typical community college graduation rate. Over 95% of those who graduate proceed to direct employment with their sponsoring company. This is a rock solid talent pipeline.
- AMT graduates are far ahead of their traditional program peers at graduation. They perform better in technical courses, have more total education, are much more broadly educated and have developed and demonstrated a set of critical work skills. This addresses and resolves problem No. 2, above.
- When you consider that AMT is a program which provides skilled talent, provides it in the numbers needed, provides it at a higher quality level, and is primarily managed by employers, one can see that it’s an economic development tool that both strikes at the center of the No. 1 concern that employers have when selecting a site for new business, and for attracting potential employer’s attention in the first place.
- But there’s more! AMT is part of the larger Advanced Manufacturing Career Pathways. It’s a set of a highly managed, highly coordinated system that targets 3 career paths that are critical to company success: Technician, Engineer, and Business.
- The Engineer pathway continues an AMT graduate on the road of education while still keeping him/her affiliated with the company. In addition to some other contributors it involves a continuous engineering co-op activity and does it with a local 4-year engineering or technology degree program.
- Manufacturing companies are always hiring bachelor-degreed professionals for many functions in their companies. Imagine, if you will, the “perfect” business-based bachelor’s degree for the manufacturing field. It’s pretty hard to find! Candidates who have it get much attention. Rather than try to find that kind of degree and feel lucky on the rare occasion when someone with it applies to the company, why not create it and make it available locally? That’s what the bachelor’s degree component of the Business program has done. It’s a bachelor’s degree that accepts up to 100% of credit from the AMT program, for those who have gone through it (others can just take the necessary courses, like most seeking a degree would). In addition to key business courses it also has a very strong Lean Manufacturing component. Key activities are available to those who take it, including the Manufacturing Tours and Study program and the Leaders and Professionals Inspiration Series. It’s also part of a certificate system which will provide meaningful recognition and credentials for participants as they complete their bachelor’s degree. Great for companies! Great for people! Great for attracting those people to companies which will make great use of their learning and skills.
What it boils down to is this: The AMT Program combined with the Advanced Manufacturing Career Pathways will give your region a product for talent supply and talent development that will be essentially unmatched by the great majority of other regions. Given what employers want when establishing new business activities, it could potentially be the most powerful tool in your set.