Manufacturers are Finding Success with School Partnerships

As manufacturers work to fill the talent gap, strong partnerships with schools are proving to be an effective way to meet the workforce needs.

gettyimages-522452680-compressorThe new Additive Manufacturing Research Laboratory in Pittsburgh, PA, recently opened as a partnership between University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and Oberg Industries. Over the next two years, Oberg employees will oversee and manage equipment and operations, while students gain hands-on experience under direct supervision of working professionals.

The lab features some of the most advanced additive manufacturing devices that utilize metals, plastics and other materials to make custom components for nearly every industry. Oberg will be able to use the lab for its own employee education and training, as well as for prototyping, testing and design. The manufacturer also will be able to promote the partnership to its customers and market to broaden corporate activity.

“Together we ask better questions, we discover and learn more, which ultimately advances Oberg’s value to its customers in this new era of additive manufacturing.”

Oberg president and CEO David Bonvenuto said in a company statement that through the partnership, Oberg also can connect its customers to the university’s expertise and its state-of-the-art facility. “Together we ask better questions, we discover and learn more, which ultimately advances Oberg’s value to its customers in this new era of additive manufacturing,” said Bonvenuto.

While these types of partnerships often have existed with community colleges and universities, they’re also now being created in more high schools. In some cases, these partnerships have moved beyond mere training to full production. Hi-Tech Machining & Engineering in Tucson, AZ, recently turned to students at Desert View High School to help manufacture parts for an oil separator assembly for one of the country’s largest jet manufacturers. Hi-Tech vice president Jeremy Schalk told The Southern Arizona News-Examiner that students will make the parts, then his team will inspect them for quality control. “I see this as training my future workforce,” said Schalk.

Schools in Arizona are creating partnerships through companies in the Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partners organization. SAMP came together in 2012 to help reduce the critical shortage of machinists and has since had significant progress in growing the skilled workforce. The program at Desert View is the only Arizona high school program on the Manufacturing Institute’s “M List” that recognizes best practices in manufacturing education. Desert View moves students into the industrial technology program starting in the junior year.

Boeing said on its website in 2015 that it is relying on partnerships with schools to fill an estimated 15,000 additional jobs it will add in Washington state through the end of the decade. The company has nearly 30 partnerships with high schools and technical colleges specific to skill areas to ensure new hires are career ready. Michelle Burreson, senior manager of Workforce Development & Integration at Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes division, said “by sharpening existing partnerships and creating new ones, we can make sure that school curriculum matches the skill needs of employers.


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