A strong manufacturing base is critical to the financial and national security of the United States. U.S. manufacturers employ over 13 million people in high-paying jobs with benefits, and create millions of additional jobs, directly and indirectly, in a wide range of related industries. As manufacturing jobs move from low-tech to high-skill, the manufacturing workforce will be increasingly important to helping sustain the American way of life.
MEP centers are engaged in a wide variety of activities to help SMEs develop a skilled workforce and organizational policies that reflect progressive workforce practices. In addition, MEP centers support efforts to build the workforce development eco-system for manufacturing. Essential components of these efforts include: ensuring access to career ladders, competitive wages and benefits, training opportunities, and mentorships/ internships/ apprenticeships. Examples of MEP center activities include:
- Catalyst Connection (PA) offers workforce pipeline initiatives such as college internships, scholarships, a technology program for students who can't/don't want to participate in traditional internships, a program connecting teachers with manufacturers, and a robotics competition involving partnerships between high schools and manufacturers.
- MassMEP (MA) created the Manufacturing Advancement Center in Workforce Collaboration (MACWIC), a collaborative of more than 100 SMEs and brought in a college to assist with certification. The model has been adopted by other colleges, and those are are programs working with post-secondary and vocational schools on training toward jobs and pre-apprenticeships.
Community College Partnerships
At the national level, NIST MEP has a Memorandum of Understanding with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) to work closely with its member colleges to inform academia of changing skill requirements. MEP supports AACC's annual Workforce Development Institute in numerous ways. Plenary sessions and panel presentations by MEP experts convey the transformation of manufacturing jobs and skills and introduce colleges to the MEP system. At the local level, centers partner with community colleges to deliver standard or customized training and improve industry outreach, education, and services. This partnership maximizes access to high-quality, job-focused training; several hundred MEP-community college partnerships have been active over the last decade.
The Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC), a Pennsylvia MEP center is part of a team that worked on a one-year $298,500 "Skill Up" grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED). As part of the MRC-led Skill Up Workforce Development Project, the Da Vinci Science Center (a nonprofit in Allentown with a focus on scientific and technical careers) led the creation of the Dream It. Do It. Pennsylvania website in partnership with MRC, the Lehigh Career and Technical Institute (LCTI), and the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board (LVWIB). The site facilitates access to a nationally recognized brand, a robust support network, and numerous activities (internships, video contests, etc) to attract students to manufacturing careers and provide resources for students, their families, educators, and manufacturers.
Mary Ann Pacelli talks to Manufacturing Talk Radio at the Women In Manufacturing Summit 2015
On Thursday, September 24th. Mary Ann Pacelli, NIST MEP's Manager of Workforce Development was interviewed by Tim and Lew, hosts of Manufacturing Talk Radio at the Women in Manufacturing Summit. Mary Ann was one of the three individuals who were interviewed to help listeners gain a better understanding of the challenges women face in the manufacturing industry but also see how they have persevered.