Not so long ago, this phrase became synonymous with our young people. “The Village” is everyone who can and should impact the lives of children by developing and nurturing them for a path to success. We should be keenly aware of this fact in all facets of our business and personal lives. Whether or not you are a parent, we must support our future generations.
You may think that, as a manufacturing company, we don’t have many opportunities to impact the direction of the lives of young people in our community. It's actually just the opposite. We are always looking for ways to support technical education and STEM programs. The Rodon Group often hosts school tours and engages with administrators. Our sister company, K’NEX has developed an entire product line devoted to teaching science, engineering and math skills.
Recently, we met with counselors and directors of three area technical schools to get their input on how our company could support their programs and get on the radar screen of their best and brightest students. Their input was invaluable. If you work in a company that needs strong STEM trained candidates, you may find some useful pointers. Here are three key takeaways from our roundtable discussion.
- We need to educate parents about manufacturing careers. Too often parents steer their children into 4 year college programs because they have a distorted view of manufacturing. Most factories today are clean, high-tech production environments and offer high-paying, stable employment opportunities.
- We need to educate our youth about advanced manufacturing. Like their parents, many children don’t know about the opportunities available in manufacturing. They often shy away from STEM courses and technical education. We need to reach them where they live, through social media and engagement with their schools. And, we need to reach them before they get to high-school so they can make informed decisions about all of the opportunities available to them in the future. The use of video testimonials would show kids a real-life example of a pier that chose a manufacturing career. Here is an example from the website Profoundly Disconnected, a project developed by Mike Rowe of “Dirty Jobs” fame.
- Kids need hands-on training. Having experience with machining tools and software gives these future manufacturing employees a great advantage over other candidates. Manufacturing companies can help support this training through co-op programs and scholarships. One technical high school at the meeting invites companies to come into the classroom to teach career awareness courses.
Many companies are involved in supporting and encouraging STEM education and Careers. Just visit the Manufacture Your Future website to see how Alcoa has strategically teamed up with Discovery Education to create a website with resources targeted to parents, teachers and counselors. If you don’t have an engineering background or trade skill, a parent may find it difficult to discuss manufacturing careers. This website offers a great guide to get the conversation started. The site also includes lesson plans for STEM activities that are sure to engage kids.