It’s been a busy month as we recognize Manufacturing Month during October. Last week’s theme for Manufacturing Month was High-Tech Manufacturing. Our high-tech industry has changed – and is still changing – by leaps and bounds in the last 20 to 40 years. Still, business owners find the demand for skilled workers in our industry is on the rise. We also continue to fight that outdated perception of the dark, dirty factory. While we modernize our facilities, discover innovative processes, and create new positions, we also depend on our partnerships with local educators to help us find and instruct the talent that will become the next generation of manufacturers.
On Thursday, October 5, I had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., for a congressional briefing held by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). I had been invited by Gateway Technical College (GTC), to join NC3 instructor/coordinator Matt Janisin. GTC, just one of three technical colleges nationwide to be invited to this program, was happy to share the good things going on here in southeast Wisconsin. Matt and I joined the AACC team and about 70 congressional staffers, to learn more about business and education partnerships.
This was a positive event, allowing community colleges to show Capitol Hill how they meet the needs of their local businesses and economy. Each of the three colleges – GTC, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), and Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) – teamed up with a business partner from their community. Tri-C partnered with The Illuminating Company in Ohio, and SLCC partnered with Boeing in Utah. I was pleased to represent both Precision Plus and GTC, following years of our successful partnership, and it was interesting to hear the similar stories of other business/education partnerships. After the hearing, we passed out cards to promote the recent PMPA “Change Your Game” video. The card included a QR code to allow each recipient to watch the two-minute video from their smart device.
Following our group session, we went on to meet with staff from House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office, Senator Tammy Baldwin and Senator Ron Johnson, for a deeper dive into the need for greater awareness and promotion of manufacturing careers.
The AACC is the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s community colleges, and they have proven that, “community colleges are a boon to the American economy at large and to the individual student.” I was honored to be a part of this informative session, and I understand the importance to continue to make our voices heard when it comes to closing the manufacturing skills gap and promoting advanced manufacturing careers in this country. It continues to be an issue where the manufacturers, the educators, and the elected officials must be willing to keep the conversation going and work together. To learn more about our day on Capitol Hill, I’ve included a link below to an article by Matthew Dembicki, editor of Community College daily.
Mike Reader, President