PENNY: The promotion of engineering as a brilliant and exciting career needs to start at an early age. We do our part by organizing school visits from primary and secondary schools. Five work experience placements are offered per year, and typically it is the pupils from the village school who take these placements. We also have involvement with the local colleges, such as Chesterfield College, sponsoring their Engineering Department Celebration of Achievement event. It is well known that there is a national shortfall of engineers, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to find good candidates. It is a big challenge for small and medium enterprises to attract high-caliber engineers when we have to compete against the large, prestigious blue-chip companies that are attractive to graduates. For almost a decade, Penny Hydraulics has been involved with Sheffield Hallam University as part of its Knowledge Transfer Partnership Scheme. This has enabled us to offer valuable industry experience to engineers with little or no practical experience and recruit high-caliber graduates to run well-defined projects within our company.
WYREMBELSKI: Here are some thoughts: Pay a proper skilled trades wage to those who qualify. Provide skilled training at the high school level before graduation. Start early. Promote college, but not as the “only” alternative for a quality life. Continue to support the re-shoring efforts to bring good manufacturing jobs back to this country. Be relevant. Expand your digital presence. Promote your brand…who you are. Have fun. LANGRO: The new technology on the plant floors brings new opportunities to the plant workers; continued education is the way to keep workers productive and engaged. It is never too early to foster and cultivate an interest in technology. There are various programs, such as FIRST Robotics and the NFPA’s Fluid Power Challenge, both of which offer high school students a chance to gain first-hand experience with fluid power and automation technology. Events such as Manufacturing Day, where companies give tours and discuss the role they play in manufacturing, help to create the awareness of careers in manufacturing. In each of these cases, it is important
for today’s professionals to help inspire tomorrow’s workforce. HARMEYER: The best way to handle the workforce crisis in manufacturing is with education, both for young people entering the workforce and for seasoned workforce veterans who need or want to increase their skill-set to keep up with changing technology. Employee education reimbursement programs are an effective method to do so. We must teach young students that STEM-related professions are great, satisfying careers that pay well. Engineering degrees command the highest wages of any four-year degree. Engineering-focused programs and extracurricular activities in high school is a great start. Kids watch a lot of television, which glamorizes investigators, doctors, and lawyers. Have you seen a controls engineer as the focus of a television show? This is why it is imperative to educate young students in school about how they can contribute to society as an engineer. Most kids don’t know that engineers developed the smartphones, tablets, and televisions that they use every day.
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