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Grant Competition Focused on Advanced Manufacturing Now Open

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Last week the Obama administration announced a new $26 million grant competition – the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge – designed to support advanced manufacturing and stimulate economic growth. Proposals should show how applicants “will help grow a region’s industry clusters by strengthening connections to regional economic development opportunities and advanced manufacturing assets, enhance a region’s capacity to create high-quality sustainable jobs, develop a skilled and diverse advanced manufacturing workforce, increase exports, encourage the development of small businesses and accelerate technological innovation.”

The initiative is being funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, the Small Business Administration, and the National Science Foundation. It will also be supported by eight other federal agencies, including the Department of Education. According to OVAE, one goal of the competition is to engage education and training providers, such as community colleges, to ensure that individuals are prepared for new jobs in the manufacturing industry.

Twelve projects are expected to be awarded the competitive grants. The deadline to submit applications for the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is July 9th. Guidelines for submissions are available at http://www.manufacturing.gov.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

 

By Nancy in Public Policy
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President Focuses on Education and Skills Training in State of the Union

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

In his State of the Union address last night President Obama called keeping the middle class alive “the defining issue of our time.” Throughout his speech, he set out proposals to foster an economy “built to last” predicated on education, a skilled workforce, high-paying jobs, energy independence and fairness that would help bolster the middle class.

The President highlighted the skills gap that exists in industries such as manufacturing, information technology and clean energy: “Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job.” In an effort to solve this problem, he called for a national commitment to train two million individuals with the skills they need to land a job, with a focus on partnerships between businesses and community colleges. The President is scheduled to release his FY13 budget on February 13. We hope that his commitment to address the skills gap and provide resources for unemployed individuals will be reflected in his proposal for Perkins Act funding.

President Obama also focused on the current job training system, saying that he wants “to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people…have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help they need.” His hope is that streamlining the system will get people back to work more quickly in the jobs that exist today, and better prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow. While he does not mention the Workforce Investment Act specifically, the program has been due for reauthorization since 2003 and has been top priority for the both the House and the Senate this session. Given the President’s mention of the workforce system, we are hopeful that this signals a desire to reauthorize WIA in the coming year.

The President also touched on other education issues such as high school dropouts, calling on states to require students to stay in school until graduation or until they turn 18. In terms of college access and affordability, the President urged Congress to keep student interest rates low and extend the tuition tax credit. He also asked institutions of higher education to keep costs down and was blunt in his commitment to making postsecondary education more affordable, saying, “If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.”

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By Nancy in Legislation, Public Policy
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CTE in the News: The Transformation of American Factory Jobs, In One Company

Friday, January 13th, 2012

The evolution of a fuel-injector assembly line in Greenfield, South Carolina exemplifies the transformation of the manufacturing workforce taking place across the nation, according to a recent NPR story. Making it in America, the second piece in a two-part series, highlights the new and old demands of the manufacturing industry, which has moved from largely hiring low-skilled workers on the assembly line to high-skilled and more-educated workers.

The stories of the success and looming threats among Standard Motor Products employees buttresses the argument for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs that align to the economy and raises the rigor and skill attainment for its students.

The 92-year-old manufacturer has moved from hiring a workforce that was illiterate and did not earn their high school diploma to one that is more educated and has high skills to run sophisticated machinery.

“ ’Now it’s all finesse’ could be the motto of American manufacturing today. In factories around the country, manufacturing is becoming a high-tech, high-precision business. And not everyone has the finesse to run [these complicated machines],” the article said.

Closing the skills gap between those who can and cannot succeed in this new business remains the challenge.

By Erin in News
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Leaders Focus on Closing the Skills Gap and Increasing Innovation

Monday, November 14th, 2011

Leaders concerned with America’s growing skills gap met last week in Washington to focus on solutions to this national problem.

The Atlantic, a literary and political magazine, hosted the event to brainstorm how America can regain its competitiveness in the global economy. U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison kicked off the event by stressing the importance of teaching science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields as early as middle school. She also expressed her support for Career Technical Education (CTE) and emphasized the need for technical jobs and training to fulfill the country’s “responsibility to show that some of the best jobs in the world [require] technical degrees.”

A panel featuring higher education, government, and manufacturing experts described their various initiatives aimed at closing this gap.  Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) described current progress as slow, but he also stated that the nation is set to make great strides in the long-term.  From a higher education perspective, Bob Templin, President of Northern Virginia Community College, agreed that a larger number of high school graduates are not ready for postsecondary training. However, he also noted that secondary and postsecondary schools and business and industry are actively teaming together to create solutions.

View the entire event and additional resources here.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in News
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Most Manufacturing Executives Report a Shortage of Qualified Workers, Survey Shows

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

A recent national survey from the Manufacturing Institute, an organization focused on improving and expanding manufacturing in the United States, delves deeper into the “skills gap” issue and examines how industry leaders are responding to this challenge.

Of the thousand manufacturing executives who completed the Manufacturing Institute’s survey, nearly 70 percent reported that they have a moderate or severe shortage of available, highly-qualified workers. Over half expect the shortage to worsen within the next five years. Further, over 60 percent of executives stated that shortages and skill deficiencies are having a profound impact on their companies’ ability to expand and improve.

Manufacturing Institute President Emily DeRocco stated that students and their parents have a limited understanding of the jobs that are available in manufacturing today, partly due to the stigma around the low-skilled manufacturing jobs of the last century. However, today’s manufacturing jobs require more complex skills, like high-level technology and computer skills, and are situated in much better work environments.

Many executives reported that available jobs are in areas of “skilled production,” such as machinists, operators, distributors, and technicians. DeRocco suggests that companies partner with educational institutions, such as CTE schools and centers, to further align education and training to meet the needs of business and industry.

Through the Manufacturing Career Cluster, Career Technical Education (CTE) programs provide a response to manufacturers’ demands by educating students through career pathways that lead to industry-recognized credentials. Still, more students are needed to overcome this skills gap by training in advanced manufacturing programs of study (POS) and acquiring the skills needed to pursue positions in manufacturing.

The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte provide an analysis of the survey results in Boiling Point? The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

 

By Kara in News, Publications, Research
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Connecticut Mentoring Program Connects Youth with Top Helicopter Manufacturer

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

While business leaders across the nation voice their difficulties in finding highly-skilled employees, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is closing the skills gap through a program that connects youth with skilled mentors and, oftentimes, rewarding careers.

For years, Teamsters in Stratford, Connecticut, saw a need to connect students in the community to area businesses trying to fill job vacancies. The Sikorsky Corporation, a helicopter plant, was among these businesses. High recruitment costs and other barriers kept the plant from hiring qualified workers. Sikorsky partnered with the local Teamsters group to form the Teamsters/Sikorsky Career Pathways Mentoring Program, a pipeline for students into manufacturing positions.

Through the program, students are selected from eleven area high schools to participate in an eight-week summer internship that provides hands-on work experience facilitated by Teamster mentors. The highly-competitive program only draws from applicants who are enrolled in a Career Technical Education (CTE) program at school.

For the Sikorsky Corporation, the mentorship program provides a new source of skilled workers with fewer recruitment and retention costs. When interns are hired as full-time employees, they require less training and already have work experience and knowledge of the business.

Student interns benefit as well, earning an average of $15 to $17 per hour. For many students, the Career Pathways program has led to a full-time job at Sikorsky. According to one area Teamster, “We brought this program to the company years ago in an effort to promote the advantages of unionized work and to get that message to young people. What we didn’t anticipate at the time was the personal impact the program would have on the students and the mentors who have participated.”

An article in this month’s Teamster magazine, “A Milestone in Youth Development: Career Pathways Mentoring Program Celebrates 10 Years of Excellence,” highlights this successful program. Read more on the program’s website.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in News
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New Resource: “CTE Monthly” Newsletter

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) and NASDCTEc are partnering to create a new resource, the CTE Monthly newsletter, which aims to keep Congress and the Career Technical Education (CTE) community informed about CTE events, data, best practices and student success stories.

The newsletter will be available each month on our website, and will also be distributed monthly to members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus.

The September edition of CTE Monthly highlights the Manufacturing Career Cluster, the East Valley Institute of Technology in Mesa, Arizona, and a summary of a recent report with relevance to CTE.

Click here to view the September CTE Monthly.

Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst

By Kara in News, Research, Resources
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Legislative Update: Debt Ceiling, WIA Markup Delayed, Bills Introduced

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Leaders in Washington continue to struggle as the August 2nd deadline for lifting the federal debt ceiling approaches (See “Debt Limit Deal” in last week’s update). At President Obama’s request, the Senate recess scheduled for next week has been cancelled to continue work on the debt ceiling.

Obama held a press conference this week to reaffirm that revenues must be included in any deficit reduction plan. Republicans and Democrats remain at an impasse over the inclusion of revenues in the package, but Obama stated that both parties had already identified more than $1 trillion in spending cuts. In his speech, the President referred to his support of a manufacturing initiative that would enable 500,000 workers to receive skills and training to fill manufacturing job vacancies. He also said that education will continue to be funded.

Sen. Daniel Inouye, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, released a statement yesterday strongly opposing cuts to areas of non-defense discretionary spending, such as education. Sen. Inouye wrote “The focus of our deficit talks should not be on domestic discretionary spending, but on the real reason why we are not running a surplus: historically low revenues, soaring mandatory spending, and the cost of war.”

In other news, the Senate was scheduled to markup the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) this week but the markup has been pushed back to mid-July.

Bills Introduced:

Manufacturing Reinvestment Account Act

Sen. Blumenthal (CT) introduced S. 1237, the Manufacturing Reinvestment Account Act, that would make it easier for manufacturers to invest new capital into equipment, facilities, and job training to enable them to grow and create more jobs. This bill supports President Obama’s recent initiative to increase job training in the manufacturing sector.

Women and Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs (Women WIN Jobs) Act

Rep. Polis (CO) introduced H.R. 2315, the Women and Workforce Investment for Nontraditional Jobs (Women WIN Jobs) Act. The bill would help recruit, train and place more women into high tech and advanced manufacturing fields. Currently, women account for only one-quarter of the workforce in these areas.

Reengaging Americans in Serious Education by Uniting Programs (RAISE UP) Act

Sen. Stabenow (MI) introduced S. 1279, the Reengaging Americans in Serious Education by Uniting Programs Act (RAISE UP). The bill would coordinate existing programs to improve services to youth who have dropped out of high school. Students would be put on track to attain a high school diploma, postsecondary credential, and career that provides a family-sustaining wage.

America Recruits Act

Sen. Warner (VA) introduced S. 1247, the America Recruits Act, that would develop and recruit new, high-value jobs to the United States and encourage off-shore jobs to be brought back and filled by American workers.

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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Obama Supports Initiative to Increase Manufacturing Job Training

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

President Barack Obama announced his support today for expanding Skills for America’s Future, an industry-led initiative to partner community colleges and businesses to meet the demands of the labor market. Specifically, Obama stressed the importance of increasing job training in the manufacturing sector, an area that he views as critical to strengthening and rebuilding the economy.

Plans to increase the reach of Skills for America’s Future include helping 500,000 community college students to earn industry-recognized credentials, and providing a website to connect job-seekers to businesses. The President added that more high school students will have an opportunity to earn college credits. The initiative would benefit industry as well as students by addressing the current mismatch between skills earned by students and those required to fill vacant positions.

Applause erupted from the audience, filled with business and non-profit leaders, when Obama pushed Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) soon. He wants the new legislation to build on innovative and effective programs, and to eliminate ineffective programs.

“Right now, there are people across America with talents just waiting to be tapped, sparks waiting to be lit,” Obama said. “Our job is to light them and there’s no time to lose when we’ve got folks looking for work, when we’ve got companies that need to stay competitive in this 21st Century economy, and when we know that we’ve got to rebuild the middle class. A lot of that’s going to have to do with how well we do in manufacturing and how well we do in jobs that are related to making products here in the United States of America.”

Career Technical Education (CTE) offers tremendous opportunities for and access to training in the manufacturing sector. Industry-verified Knowledge and Skills Statements ensure that students graduate from CTE programs with the skills demanded by industry.

By Kara in News, Public Policy
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Obama Administration Wants Your Input on Advanced Manufacturing

Monday, April 12th, 2010

As we told you last week, the Obama Administration is focused on the key role that manufacturing can play in revitalizing the economy.  On Wednesday, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology launched a website to gather input from the public about the future of advanced manufacturing. There you can answer any of the ten questions posed:

Support for new manufacturing technologies

1. Are public-private partnerships (e.g., consortia), in which government jointly funds projects with industry and often academia, a good mechanism to support new manufacturing technologies that are beyond the reach of individual firms? If not, why not?

2. Some advocate the expansion of the mission of the national laboratories to include R&D challenges relevant to a broad range of manufacturing industries. Is this an appropriate strategy? If not, why not?

3. At some federal agencies, an “innovation budget” is established to promote breakthrough discoveries. Should such a budget be established for advanced manufacturing technology? If not, why not?

Support for new manufacturing firms

4. Given the success of some government-industry-university innovation clusters, should the federal government take the lead in establishing additional clusters to support new manufacturing firms, in particular? If not, why not?

5. Should the federal government assist in the formation and advancement of small firms in the advanced manufacturing sector? If not, why not?

6. Do you believe that potentially valuable research at universities is not being fully utilized by industry?  If so, why does this occur, and should federal agencies increase the emphasis on translational research to address this issue? If not, why not?

Support for existing manufacturing firms

7. Should the federal government help form public-private partnerships to perform research on “horizontal,” cross-cutting technology platforms (e.g., modeling, simulation) that are essential, but beyond the reach of individual firms? If not, why not?

8. Should the government generate an international benchmarking effort to compare US manufacturing infrastructures (i.e., technology platforms) with those of competing nations? If not, why not?

9. Should government, in partnership with industry, sponsor programs in manufacturing training and certification at community colleges, technical schools, and colleges to enhance the nation’s workforce? If not, why not?

A national manufacturing strategy

10. Should the President create a national science– and technology–based manufacturing strategy as a pillar of US economic policy? If not, why not? If so, which actions should have highest priority? Which of these are most cost-effective?

You can submit responses to any of the questions by 5:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at http://pcast.ideascale.com.

By Nancy in Public Policy
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