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.

Meeting with the Morris County Economic Development Corporation

Morris County ManufacturingOn December 6th, Convertech Inc. attended a meeting with representatives from The Morris County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC).  The MCEDC is a division of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce focused on helping Morris County business “navigate the maze of commercial, industrial and governmental regulation” and “help build successes, quickly and efficiently”, as stated on their website. The group came together to engage in a discussion on how to expand the manufacturing education programs in Morris County. By expanding and introducing manufacturing programs in schools in Morris County, Convertech Inc. as well as other manufacturing companies in the area will be able to hire more qualified employees, expand their shops, and increase production.

There are many students enrolled in manufacturing programs statewide. But there are more manufacturing opportunities in other counties than there are in Morris County. Passaic County’s CTE School has a manufacturing program designed for students to work with different manufacturing tools and equipment. The program gives students the experience needed to work in the multiple aspects of the manufacturing industry. Morris County’s CTE school has an Engineering Design and Advanced Manufacturing program that was developed in 2015. However, the program is a two-year course taken at the County College of Morris. As mentioned in an article on  County College of Morris’s website, the students focus on “basic engineering graphics, computer-aided drafting, materials for engineering technology, technical computer applications, mechanical prototyping, and electricity and electronics”. This program is a great opportunity for students however the course is geared more towards engineering than manufacturing machinists.

It is very interesting that the counties do not have the same manufacturing education opportunities.  Especially since they have almost the same number of Manufacturing Firms in each county. According to the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, in 2015, Passaic had 850 firms and Morris had 812 firms.

There is less exposure of the manufacturing technology trade in Morris County’s education system, but Manufacturing is an important job. By pursuing manufacturing technology education, students can open the door to a career right after completing the program. And going to college is still an option for those students as well. Convertech Inc. looks forward to working with the MCEDC to help gain more exposure of the manufacturing technology within the Morris County education system.

For more information about the Morris County Economic Development Corporation, visit http://www.morriscountyedc.org/.

 

North Region TIP Hosts Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network Meeting

tip-2The support behind the manufacturing industry in New Jersey is ever-growing and was displayed at the Targeted Industry Partnership’s (TIP) Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network Meeting on December 8th. The North Region TIP, consisting of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, and Warren Counties, met to brainstorm ideas as to how the manufacturing industry in the North Region can continue to cultivate.

The North Region TIP has three main goals: develop entry level workers, increase qualified employees, and build capacity. Developing entry level workers begins during the education process. The education process helps students develop their skills so they are ready to begin working when they complete their program. With more manufacturing education opportunities, we can increase the number of trained potential employees. Therefore with more employees, manufacturing companies can continue to strive and evolve. These goals can be achieved when the counties work together.

The TIP is broken down into Regions and the North Region branches off into three committees. Each committee focuses on different areas for growth to achieve the TIP’s goals. The Evaluation/ Industry Needs Committee focuses on identifying the needs of manufacturers. The Pathway Development Committee focuses on working with educators of manufacturing programs to increase the education opportunities. And the Marketing Outreach Planning Committee focuses on reaching out to businesses and getting students and parents familiar with and interested in the manufacturing programs. The committees work towards their own goal and along the way they can overlap and work together to achieve the overall goals.

For more information or to get involved, visit http://careerconnections.nj.gov/.

Manufacturing Jobs: Ours to Lose

Machinists at Convertech
As an owner of a small manufacturer for over 30 years, I can attest to the fact that U.S. school systems no longer produce work-ready adults who are equipped for careers as machinists. While today’s job’s report seems optimistic—with U.S. employers adding 271,000 jobs in October and manufacturing jobs remaining flat—the reality is that manufacturing is flat because nobody wants the jobs that are available. If they did, the manufacturing sector of job growth would explode.
Forty years ago, schools required all students, regardless of college or vocational track, to get hands-on experience in basic machinery as part of their metal and woodshop requirements. Whether it meant making a bird house or a metal box, all students had to actually makethings. For some reason, schools later decided that it was better to prep students for service jobs where they would sell what others made. And now we reap the results.
In my opinion, the reversal of this problem must start with the school systems. From a young age, students need to see manufacturing is a viable and honorable career path; one that doesn’t require a college degree (which not everyone desires). Manufacturing pays better than average wages, offers good working hours that allow people to spend more time with their families, and it suits the majority of people, if they would only be aware of it as a career option.
Historically, only the most studious went to college. Today, students are pushed to get degrees that many (perhaps most) won’t use. In my shop, less than 20% of the employees have college degrees—the other 80+% are hard-working people who live productive lives. A college degree would have wasted their money, years of their lives, and prepared them, in many cases, for jobs that don’t exist or are not needed.
I’ve been trying to get my local, county and state schools to listen to the needs of manufacturers for decades. We’ve seen a shift in their attitudes over the last five years and to an even greater extent in the last few months. NJ State and local schools have finally realized (a generation late, alas) that our students need to recognize manufacturing as a career path. 
I urge everyone to join the conversation: Contact local, county, and state school officials to advocate for our needs.  The more of us who raise our voices to those who can make this happen, the more they will listen, and the sooner the problem will be addressed.
It will be many years before U.S. school are producing qualified machinists again, but the process has to begin and it starts with manufacturers, large and small, pushing our school officials to produce a generation with the skills and attitude needed to grow companies.
A 30 year drought of young machinists is far too long. It’s up to manufacturers to push “the system” to change.
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Larry Taitel is President of Convertech Inc.