Over the last couple of years, the national conversation about the importance of education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and the emphasis on career and technical education and technology jobs has begun to have some impact. More and more students are entering certificate and degree programs in career and technical schools and community colleges, apprenticeship programs are on the rebound, and more students are choosing degree programs in engineering and finding that a career in manufacturing is a viable option.

Still, the skills gap persists. With the baby boomer generation continuing to retire and technology jobs continuing to increase, many of the large consultancies in the U.S. (Deloitte, Boston Consulting Group, etc.) project that the skills gap could shift from 600,000 in 2011, down to under 300,000 today, and back up to two million over the next ten to fifteen years.

The national community of STEM leaders has been looking to under-served parts of the population, like African Americans, Hispanics and women as a solution to rolling back the skills gap, but the data does not demonstrate success in our ability to recruit these under-served communities to careers in engineering, computer science or advanced manufacturing.

According to Change The Equation, a STEM Advocacy group, despite a concentrated effort since 2001 to encourage more women to join the engineering workforce, in 2014, only 24 percent of all engineers were women, as compared to 25 percent in 2001. In the computer science workforce, the number of women remained flat at 36 percent of the workforce, and in advanced manufacturing, the number of women in the workforce dropped from 19 percent to 18 percent.

Similarly, African-Americans and Hispanics have lost ground since 2001, even as the percentage of all people working in the STEM workforce in the U.S. has increased from 24 percent to 29 percent of the population. It’s “The Diversity Dilemma” for manufacturing.

What is one thing that we can do to begin to turn the tide on this dilemma? The fourth Thursday in April, which falls on April 23, 2015, this year, is national Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work™ Day. Open your company and ask your employees to bring their kids to work, and make the day an event by showing off the technology that you manufacture. For more information and a Coordinator’s Toolkit on planning the day, visit DaughtersandSonstowork.org

New Additive Manufacturing classes added to MTUniversity.org

Kids get excited about having a 3D Printer in their school. 3D Printers allow young people to engage in designing and making.

3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing are important technologies for all AMT members to understand as well, and AMT has made a bundle of four online Additive Manufacturing classes available for members for just $195 per subscription through MTUniversity.org. The classes were developed through a grant from the Department of Labor and through a partnership with Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland.

The classes take about four hours to complete. They feature interactive videos, text with audio voice-overs, an interactive note-taking capability, a full glossary of terms and a pre-test and final exam. Subscribers will earn a Certificate of Completion for Additive Manufacturing from MTUniversity. For more information, visit AMTonline.org, select “Smartforce” in the top navigation bar and drill down to “MTUniversity Additive Manufacturing.”

For current Certified Manufacturing Technology Sales Engineers (CMTSEs), we’ve added this bundle of Additive Manufacturing classes as an option for your Professional Development Points for Re-Certification. The Additive Manufacturing  bundle carries the same value as a college course (2 points) toward your Re-Certification. For more information about the CMTSE program, the Additive Manufacturing Professional Development Points, or Re-Certification by Nov. 1, 2015, visit www.CMTSE.org.

For more information about Smartforce Development, contact Greg Jones at gjones@AMTonline.org or 703-827-5203. For more frequent updates, follow me on Twitter @GregoryAJones.