We’re a couple of months down the road from one of the most successful student summits that our industry has ever presented at IMTS, in terms of the number of total attendees and the level of engagement that students enjoyed at the summit. We’ve also stayed in frequent contact with the teachers and administrators who attended the student summit, continuing the 3D printing challenge that students participated in at the summit with a virtual challenge. 
Now, we are not only evaluating our attendee survey, we also want to hear from AMT members about suggestions that you might have to improve our interaction with schools and the next generation of young people who might seek a career in our industry.

We’ve already begun the planning phase for the student summit at IMTS 2016.

We can dive into the data from this year’s summit to see that more schools and students attended than ever before. What’s striking is that 32 percent of the attendees were from community colleges and engineering schools from as many as 34 states. These students are already studying in programs that can lead them to a career in manufacturing, and they are nearing workforce readiness. Many of these students asked specifically about the potential of finding an internship or a job with an exhibitor at IMTS.

Clearly, we want to continue to develop the pipeline of STEM-capable students beginning in the elementary school and middle school years. At the same time, we’ll want to create a forum for post-secondary students who are nearing workforce readiness. An in-person career fair is in order.

Luckily, we don’t have to wait until the student summit at IMTS 2016 to find potential internship candidates or entry-level engineers, field service techs, machinists, welders and others. AMT members have the ability to post these positions on our members-only job board, MTCareers at www.MTCareers.org

We only market MTCareers to schools to attract resumes and to AMT members for job postings, and it’s one way for us to put our best foot forward as a way to make it easy for soon-to-be-graduates to be aware of our industry and to find a career in manufacturing technology, providing us with a competitive advantage.

Creating a competitive advantage, along with re-building partnerships with schools in your local community, is really what it’s all about in recruiting. The manufacturing technology business is just one slice, a critically important slice I grant you, of the overall U.S. Manufacturing market. We have to be extremely aggressive in recruiting from a labor pool that is still not large enough to meet our current and near-term future needs.

We’re working on the size of the talent pipeline and the student summit helps us there by raising awareness among administrators, teachers, students, parents and policy-makers, but the trend for high school graduates is still weighted more toward four-year college degrees that don’t deliver the type of workers we need. 

At a recent global symposium on the Skills Gap that was held in Washington, DC by The Manufacturing Institute of NAM (National Association of Manufacturers), I heard this tendency of young people to seek a Bachelor’s Degree of any kind described as “qualification inflation” by a Ph.D. from Korea, who develops policy on the next generation workforce for the government of South Korea. 

Around the globe and especially in Europe, countries, in partnership with companies, are re-doubling their efforts to encourage apprenticeship programs with students beginning in their early-to-mid teenage years. Industry, acting for its own benefit, provides apprenticeships, guarantees good jobs and, as a result, secures its future workforce.

If you have an interest in re-starting an apprenticeship program at your company, please contact me. The experts at AMT partner, NIMS have an apprenticeship roadmap that AMT members can easily follow.

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