Precision Plus’s Efforts to Fill the Skills Gap: First Installment.
By Barry Butters
Mike Reader, President of Precision Plus is attempting to do his part to fill the skills gap in the manufacturing industry. He explains that there is no shortage of work and that Precision Plus is ready to commit to expansion. However, he adds, “One of the greatest impediments to our expansion project is the lack of a large enough work force with the skills necessary to meet the new demands of CNC machining.”
As a result, Mike Reader has felt a sense of urgency to act and take steps to become part of the solution. Reader’s involvement stems from a personal goal to help local, state, national and global communities understand the manufacturing industry as a whole and its employment opportunities.
Committed to the movement, Mike Reader and Precision Plus have begun to put the gears in motion:
Late in 2012, Mike invited twenty-four area administrators, guidance counselors and educators to tour Precision Plus and to discuss the manufacturing opportunities available for high school graduates in the area.
Following that meeting and together with Elkhorn Area High School, Mike organized a career panel comprised of manufacturing professionals. Panelists included Dan Murphy, Regional Sales Manager at Rem Sales, LLC, Darlene Miller, President and CEO of Permac Industries and Vice President of Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA), John Murphy, President of Morris Midwest, LLC, Olaf Tessarzyk, Managing Partner of ZPS America, LLC, and himself. In spite of a severe winter snow storm, 180 students from three area high schools (Geneva Badger, Williams Bay and Elkhorn) attended the event. For one and a half hours on February 27, 2013, the panelists and students engaged in a genuine discussion about the state of the industry and the possibilities manufacturing has available for young people finishing high school.
The career panel meeting stimulated a great deal of interest from students which led to Precision Plus’ hiring of ten summer interns, who joined Precision Plus on June 10, 2013.
Three of the interns were college students pursuing engineering majors: Markus Gudel, attending University of Wisconsin—Platteville, and Milwaukee School of Engineering’s Charlie Dall and Mike Reader, Jr. Four of the interns were graduating high school seniors, who would begin their undergraduate engineering schooling in the fall: Bob Dall and Brad Killen who would attend University of Wisconsin–Madison, Martin Korsholm, who would attend Purdue University, and Jon Stopple, who would attend University of Wisconsin–Platteville. The other three interns were high school students from Richmond Burton H.S. and Elkhorn Area H.S., Ryan Reader, Carson Filko and Jordan Barr.
The interns came to Precision Plus with high-achieving academic records and outstanding characters. The goal was to immerse them in the real operations of the precision CNC machining industry, as they rotated through each department and the four machining platforms. They learned to help with set-ups and operated the machines doing off-sets and verifying the components were within tolerances. The interns also participated in three outings as they toured the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) machining facilities, the SC Johnson Integrated Manufacturing and Engineering Technology (iMET) Center in Sturtevant, and the Snap-on Tools facility in Kenosha.
At the end of the internship, it was obvious that these interns took away more than just hand-on experience, but an understanding of the value of manufacturing, committing to become ambassadors for the manufacturing industry.
Precision Plus looks forward to the next crop of interns who will continue to help forging the future of the industry.