Every time I tell someone what I do for a living, the first response I usually get is, “That’s wonderful! Because, you know, college isn’t for everybody.” While I understand the sentiment, I always cringe a little for two reasons: 1. If they are parents, they usually aren’t talking about their own kids; and 2. Post-secondary education is REQUIRED for 80% of all manufacturing jobs and 100% of the apprenticeships that I run. Is it always a traditional 4-year degree? Typically not, but apprenticeships are a wonderful way to advance your career and earn a debt-free education.
Through ongoing outreach and recent surveys, WIRE-Net’s ears are tuned to the constant and growing mantras of the manufacturing talent and skills gap dilemma. Our survey released this spring reinforced this with 90% of respondents indicating that finding and developing talent is a concern and barrier to future growth.
Our work with companies to relaunch apprenticeships attacks this issue with a clear sense of purpose and focus.
This week marks the third annual National Apprenticeship Week (November 13-19). We are excited to take part in this celebration with so many other companies, individuals, and educators that are making a difference through apprenticeship programs. We believe apprenticeships work for everyone—from the business owner looking to recruit highly skilled and talented workers, to the job seeker wanting to advance their career. It works because youth and job seekers can earn while they learn, and employers can develop the talent they need to compete today and tomorrow.
WIRE-Net kicked off its second Apprenticeship Consortium this month, speaking with leaders from 3 metalworking companies (in addition to 4 others already committed to the CNC Machining Consortium). As part of WIRE-Net’s “apprenticeship accelerator” initiative we’ve developed a 21st century approach to company sponsored training to encourage wide adaptation and adoption by manufacturers.
This is a smart practice for six reasons...
With generous funding from The Cleveland Foundation, WIRE-Net is entering a third year of collaboration with MAGNET on the Accelerate Cleveland Manufacturing (ACM) initiative to provide Cleveland companies with training, consultation, or peer-learning groups in an effort to boost economic growth and job creation, one plant at a time.
In 2015, WIRE-Net re-posted a blog by Gary Weldon from the popular MADEinOHIO.us blog. Gary's words inspired us to act to help our member companies and their employees.
"You see, an apprenticeship is more than just a training program – something able to transfer key skills to a new generation – it is a career pathway. It takes the ambiguous 'Just show up and work hard and someday you'll be successful' mindset and gives it specificity. It gives those who are willing to work hard a clear view of what's achievable and outlines the steps of how they can get there.
It also does something else. Something very powerful. It communicates that a career in manufacturing is something worth investing time and money in. It shows a young apprentice that their company is optimistic about the future and is committed to developing the people who will be essential to its success."
At eighteen years old, I had my life planned out perfectly – or so I thought. It was the summer of 1997 and I had just graduated Strongsville High School and was set to attend Cuyahoga Community College, and transfer to OSU shortly after. My older sisters had already gone off to college, and my parents wanted, even expected, me to follow suit. My neighbor owned an HVAC company, and offered me a job delivering parts to his technicians for the summer. Business was booming that year, and before I knew it I was being sent on service calls, and doing fairly well.
I'll admit it: I grew up in the sixties. It was a different world then, but not so different when it comes to a young person making his or her way in life—attaining knowledge and skills necessary to provide for a family. In 1969 my soon-to-be-husband was the only person at his high school to be accepted in three different apprenticeship programs. What an honor, and what a life decision. He chose sheet metal, earned his journeyman certificate and hired on at Ohio Brass Co.
I had been working as a machinist for less than two years and I was ready to quit. Not only quit my job, but get out of manufacturing altogether.