How Manufacturers Can Become More Involved In Education

calculator and pencil on a notebookIt’s a pretty common reply to questions about manufacturing problems: The solution to the shortage of skilled workers is to create partnerships between actual manufacturers and schools.

With more and better communication, manufacturers will be able to ensure that they have a workforce coming down the pipeline; they can spread the word about the amazing jobs and pay scales available and share information about their company with students. But is this feasible? In what ways can manufacturers work with school districts? Does this actually work?

Beatrice Public School District in Nebraska certainly thinks so. Just this week, Annie Bohling reported for the Daily Sun that BPS will be teaming up with a plethora of local community members to improve offerings. “I think schools are a valuable tool for economic development and recruitment,” said BPS Superintendent Pat Nauroth to the Daily Sun. “I just think that in most communities, people don’t think about how we can collaborate. We have made a conscious effort as a community . . . about ‘How do we work together to sell ourselves?’” As such, BPS is working with NGage (Gage Area Growth Enterprise), Southeast Community College, and other partners to strengthen relationships and improve collaboration for all.

Here are a few ways for manufacturers to work directly with the local public school districts. Whether you choose one or all, the time is now to invest in your future workforce.

Local Tours: Currently, Beatrice High School is working to organize tours of local manufacturing companies for interested high schoolers. Tours demonstrate to students how STEM subjects are actually used in daily life, and they let students know that they too can succeed in the manufacturing field. Google X and Tesla paired with a local community school to bring groups of students from underserved communities in. “A lot of times kids don’t realize that, A. they can do these jobs and B. that science and engineering, heroic engineering is one of the greatest jobs in the world, to make the world a better place through invention and innovation,” said Google X Vice President Megan Smith.

Work-based Learning: This type of learning is what’s at play in vocational schools, but many public school districts are a long way from apprenticeship or vocation models. “I think the public schools [in Beatrice] are becoming more active in helping students connect in business and industry here so they can learn about what opportunities are here for employment,” said NGage executive director Dennis McClure. First of all, some students simply learn better by doing than by hearing, so apprenticeships can make a major difference. The National Center for Secondary Education emphasizes this tenet when they report that work-based learning is also important for students who want to find out what their interests are—there’s no better way to find out than by doing the job.

Spread Awareness: The team at BPS notes the importance of social media for attracting millennials, and this is undoubtedly true. A robust online presence can stimulate dialogue between students, schools, and companies as well as spread inspiring information without the work involved in setting up a tour. If you don’t have the resources to connect physically, connect digitally.

Questions? Comments? Want to learn more? Leave them in the section below!

photo credit: 049 | 366 – The grind never stops via photopin (license)