11/11/2019- It’s no secret there’s a shortage of skilled workers locally, now business and industry leaders are teaming up with educational partners to figure out what to do about it. The NEW Manufacturing Alliance is a group of manufacturers who are collaborating with educators, workforce development, and state organizations to promote manufacturing in Northeast Wisconsin, with the vision that every manufacturer will find the talent it needs. The organization met last week at Great Lakes Custom Tool Manufacturing in Peshtigo where GLCT Vice President Ray Martin said, when it comes to retaining students, he feels there needs to be a push to introduce them to the types of opportunities in manufacturing available to them post-graduation before they even hit high school.
“Are we finding these individuals early enough in their school career? We’ve have a lot of 9th through 12th (graders) come through here. By the time they’re 11th grade, 12th grade, it’s too late. They already know what their intentions are.”
Jennifer Flatt is the Dean of NWTC’s Marinette campus and says there also needs to be more of an effort to target students who may struggle with traditional academics or come from an economically disadvantaged family. She says there’s nothing holding these individuals back from finding success in the manufacturing industry, but they have to know how to get there first.
“I feel like sometimes they don’t see a path forward and they don’t necessarily have the family support or the community support to figure any of it out. I wish that as a community and a set of communities we could do more with students that struggle academically to help them see a potential future where they could lift their family maybe out of an intergenerational poverty situation…The sad reality is that many of our young people don’t have the capacity to develop a passion for anything because they’re too busy just trying to survive.”
To boost student engagement, the Alliance is working to secure a grant from the Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs Foundation to offer a manufacturing camp to area youth in 2020 in conjunction with other summer programming.