Manufacturing Apprenticeships to Benefit New Jersey

manufacturing apprenticeshipsIn any successful business, after a demand is established from the consumer, you cannot increase revenue without increasing production. It’s a simple relation of the law of supply and demand. But it can be difficult to increase production without an influx of skilled employees, which can be the case in the manufacturing industry. An effective way to resolve this matter is through manufacturing apprenticeships.

Manufacturing apprenticeships give students and future employees a learning experience inside the trade; it acts as a paid training program. Max Daetwyler Corp. was recently featured in an article on TechTarget’s website for participating with 5 other North Carolina Manufacturers in a program called Apprenticeship 2000. This program is “a four-year program of community college classes in mechatronics and advanced manufacturing coupled with paid worksite apprenticeships”. What makes this program stand out above other manufacturing apprenticeships is that they have an extended eight-month interview process where students attend an open house and an orientation to be evaluated on their skill level. After review, the accepted students will participate in the six-week summer trial period and if qualified, will be offered the apprenticeship. It is a long process but it insures that the program is a good fit for the students and that the students are a good fit for the program.

Apprenticeship 2000, as well as other manufacturing apprenticeships, bring great opportunities for companies; especially for those looking to hire more skilled employees and expand their company. Once manufacturers in New Jersey have established a registered apprenticeship program, the sponsoring companies would be able to hire skilled employees that they personally train on their equipment and machines. And students will have more incentive to not only continue with the trade post-graduation, but inspire students to enroll in manufacturing programs. New Jersey manufacturing could highly benefit from programs like these.

Passaic County Technical Institute Leads The Way With Their Manufacturing Technology Program

PCTI

Passaic County Technical Institute’s Manufacturing Technology Machine Shop

In the state of New Jersey, once students are at the high school age, they have the opportunity to begin their career path by enrolling in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) high school. At the CTE high schools, along with the core high school curriculum, students learn a specific trade, like manufacturing technology. Unfortunately, manufacturing programs are not offered statewide. Manufacturing Technology programs should be implemented throughout New Jersey CTE high schools because there is a high demand for jobs in the field and many opportunities for students post-graduation.

Passaic County Technical Institute in Wayne, New Jersey, for example, has an exemplary Manufacturing Technology program for students interested in a career in the manufacturing industry. Every year, out of numerous applicants, only 18 are accepted into the program. With the smaller class size and the program’s two certified educators, the students have a more individualized learning environment. And the students have access to technology and machines that are used in the field, giving them more exposure and training with the equipment they will be using once they graduate.

During their first year in the program, the students will learn the responsibilities of a job in the manufacturing field and get hands on experience with the tools. Their second year is where they begin to work with the manual milling and lathe machines. By giving them the experience with the manual machines first, the students gain a better understanding of how the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines operate and function when they work with them during their third year. In their final year, the students will continue to work with the CNC machines and also participate in Co-Op programs, where they work in the field while they are still in school. The four year Manufacturing Technology program gives students the knowledge to be able to make products and practical designs; an experience they can build upon.

During their time in the Manufacturing program, students have also had the opportunity to work on professional projects before they graduate. Through the Passaic County Technical Institute’s partnership with High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH), students were able to design and prototype projects using materials, equipment, and mentoring from NASA. As stated in a press release, “Manufacturing Technology students were tasked with the challenge of utilizing their skills to lathe a screw sleeve for a stowage locker for the International Space Station – one of fifty-one parts manufactured directly by students of the HUNCH program.” To read more about the opportunities this partnership brings to Passaic County Technical Students, please visit https://www.nasahunch.com/2016/03/pcti-students-partner-with-nasa-hunch-program/.

The Manufacturing program at Passaic County Technical Institute gives students a foundation to take wherever they would like to go. Once they complete the program, students can begin working right away since they now have the knowledge and training experience with the tools and machines. If they would like to continue their education, they have the opportunity to go to a community college and pursue an Associate’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. Or they also have the option to continue their education further and can pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering. Passaic County Technical Institute is just the beginning.

Passaic County Technical Institute offers an exclusive Manufacturing Technology Program that gives students the familiarity and experience with the different types of equipment in the manufacturing field. Having a Manufacturing Technology program like the one at Passaic County Technical Institute incorporated into CTE high schools statewide would be beneficial. A career in manufacturing technology is one filled with opportunities and is important work that all students should have the opportunity to pursue.

To learn more about Passaic County Technical Institute, visit their website https://www.pcti.tec.nj.us/

Help wanted: Manufacturers struggle to find skilled employees

The following appeared in PlasticsToday:
by Clare Goldsberry (published: January 15, 2016

 

 

Manufacturing needs new blood in order to breathe new life back into this segment of the economy, but finding young people and creating the programs needed to train them will take a lot of work on the part of the manufacturing community. Larry Taitel, President of Convertech Inc., a manufacturer of air shafts and chucks in Wharton, NJ, and Dr. John W. Kennedy, CEO of the New Jersey Manufacturer’s Extension Partnership (NJMEP), are outspoken advocates of state-supported educational opportunities for students in machining.

New Jersey is home to 11,000 manufacturers, and yet, Taitel told PlasticsToday, finding the skilled machinists he needs to keep up with demand for his products is nearly impossible. Taitel currently employs 45 people, 35 of whom are production workers, in his 40,000-square-foot manufacturing area.

“Every year it gets worse, and now it’s intolerable,” Taitel lamented.

Taitel is in the same boat as nearly every manufacturing company. And it doesn’t appear that things will get any better over the next decade. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in its biennial 10-year projection, the economy is returning to a more consistent growth path, but the growth is slower than the long-term trends that existed prior to the Great Recession. “The combination of a slowing of population growth, a continuation of longstanding trends of decreasing labor force participation and a lower unemployment rate will result in employment growth slightly stronger from 2014 to 2024 than it was from 2004 to 2014,” said the overview of the report.

Unfortunately the report projects that the service-providing sectors will account for the majority of projected job growth. That could mean that people like Taitel and moldmakers and plastics processors will see more young people flipping burgers and making lattes than applying for jobs as machinists, moldmakers, press operators and quality control technicians.

Taitel puts the blame on the manufacturing industry for not being proactive in working with high schools to keep shop classes active or partnering with vo-tech schools to ensure that the skills taught and the machinery used keep up with changing manufacturing technologies. As shop classes and vo-tech schools became obsolete, manufacturing dropped the ball and now it’s crying for skills that no longer exist.

“Thirty years ago, all high schools had machine shops and taught skills,” said Taitel, remembering back to the days when he took shop classes. “Then schools got on this kick that everyone needs to go to college. But that’s not where the jobs are today. The jobs are in making things; in manufacturing, the jobs have been there all along.”

Taitel doesn’t begrudge anyone getting a college degree. Eight of his employees have college degrees but they are in areas that are in demand at his plant, and they don’t have a degree just for the sake of having a degree. “We’ve lost an entire generation of machinists by taking shop out of the schools and eliminating vo-tech schools,” he said. “We need to get this back into the schools and tell the kids that manufacturing offers good, high-paying jobs.”

At Convertech, the work is low volume—one to five pieces for customized roll-fed machinery. That means that Taitel does a lot of work on manual machines, because automating at such low volumes isn’t efficient given the amount of programming and setup involved for each job. He operates 30 manual lathes and six automatic lathes, noting that using the manual lathe is still the best way to make one or two pieces. “People need to be able to do this,” he said. “Even to go to an automation operator position, you need to come from the manual side of things. You need to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t work.”

Convertech pays well,In spite of that, “nobody wants to get their hands dirty,” Taitel said.

The BLS said in its report that the manufacturing sector is projected to experience the largest employment loss of any sector. “A projected loss of 814,000 jobs from 2014 to 2024 would reduce manufacturing employment to just under 11.4 million. While the loss is large, it is less than 40% of the loss that was experienced from 2004 to 2014, when more than 2.1 million manufacturing jobs were lost.” And the annual decline of 0.7% over the current projection period is less than the 1.6% annual decline that occurred from 2004 to 2014, the BLS report noted.

Taitel thinks that one solution is letting people know that manufacturing is not yet dead; that it’s not even on life support. “Everybody thinks manufacturing has left the country, but China took the low-paying, mass-production jobs,” he commented. “Everybody thinks that if you don’t go to college you can’t make money, and [that] manufacturing is bad work.”

But it’s going to take a lot of work on the part of manufacturers to attract young people to manufacturing. They will need to engage in collaborative efforts with high school guidance counselors to put young people on a trade track and help community colleges set up manufacturing technology programs and then support those programs to keep them relevant.

NJMEP’s John Kennedy agrees. “Manufacturers can’t sit back and wait for someone else to fix the problem. We have to fix it ourselves by imparting to our elected officials and school curriculum decision makers how important skills training is for our students, our manufacturers and our state. We’re looking for New Jersey to support apprenticeships and get us back on track for everyone’s sake,” he stated. “It’s up to us. Those of us who have spent our lives in this amazing industry must make sure that we pass the word along to all who will listen to help ensure our future.”

Convertech President Advocates for Educational Programs, Apprenticeships for Machinists

Machinists at Convertech in Wharton, NJ.

As reported by New Jersey Business Magazine, Convertech president Larry Taitel continues to lead the charge for better educational opportunities in the area of manufacturing. Taitel, who was recently invited to join Board of Advisors for Eastwick College and the Hohokus Schools in New Jersey, delivered the keynote speech to the board. He emphasized the importance of increasing hands-on class time hours and manual machining basics for the school’s curriculum; of increasing the number of opportunities that students have in New Jersey for early manufacturing classroom experiences; and for the vital need for traditional four-year machinist apprenticeships that begin at the high school level.

Taitel’s company, which has manufactured products for the printing, labeling and packaging industry for nearly four decades, has hired a number of Eastwick graduates. “The basic skills these students acquired made all the difference in our hiring decisions,” he said. “It’s obvious how much they learned at Eastwick. But we’d like to see Eastwick offer even longer and additional programs. We believe the State has done a great disservice to young students by not even proposing machining as an option. Guidance counselors don’t even mention machining as a possibility and far too many schools have dropped their metal shops and votech programs. We see the results: It has hurt manufacturers and hurt students who, when they are not academically inclined, end up in service jobs, flipping burgers and stocking shelves, instead of acquiring skills that can serve them for life, and careers with few layoffs. It’s time to change that.”

Taitel is currently reaching out to NJ State elected officials to seek their support in bringing manufacturing curriculum back to public schools, and he urges his fellow manufacturers in New Jersey and throughout the country to do the same. “There are more than 10,000 manufacturers in the State of New Jersey alone who have been hurt by our schools dropping metal shop,” he said. “If a fraction of them would come forward and contact their elected officials, this would make a huge impact.”

Not sure who your elected officials are in New Jersey? Visit: Who is my elected official?

About Convertech: Since 1978, Convertech has designed, manufactured and delivered the industry’s highest-quality air shafts and chucks. All products are custom built at Convertech’s 40,000-sq.-ft. facility in Wharton, New Jersey where they are then quality tested before being delivered.