How Education Is Transforming to Meet Industry Needs

October 12, 2023
  • Dr. Deb Volzer
    By Dr. Deb Volzer
    Director of Government and Workforce Partnerships

Are you interested in learning about an innovative approach to address the manufacturing workforce shortage in your region? Join us for our keynote presentation, titled "How Education Is Transforming to Meet Industry Needs," at SOUTHTEC’s Workforce Day on October 24 at the Greenville Convention Center in South Carolina.

As one of the keynote speakers, I’ll talk about SME’s most recent response to the manufacturing industry’s skills gap, a new initiative called The Manufacturing Imperative – Workforce Pipeline Challenge (MI-WPC), designed to bridge the skills gap in the manufacturing industry. Launched in September, MI-WPC aims to raise awareness about manufacturing careers, enhance workforce systems, and expedite education and skill development to facilitate employment in well-paying jobs.

Raymond L. James, Assistant Dean of the School of Advanced Manufacturing and Transportation Technology at Greenville Technical College, will join me in the keynote presentation to discuss his school’s decision to be part of MI-WPC. He’ll also share Greenville Tech’s best practices in working with local industry, and provide real-life examples of companies that have worked with the school to fill the local manufacturing workforce pipeline.

All of us remember the damage to the supply chain — and the exacerbation of the worker shortage — caused by COVID-19. In alignment with the state’s and U.S. government’s response, SME determined that one of the best ways to build our country’s short- and long-term manufacturing workforce pipeline is by bringing together a consortium of community colleges — one of our nation’s primary workforce engines.

Through MI-WPC, SME and our partner community colleges such as Greenville Tech are working together to identify the barriers that prevent individuals from entering the manufacturing workforce. Those barriers include a lack of awareness that many great career opportunities are available in manufacturing and a lack of understanding that today’s manufacturing environments are clean and technologically advanced.

We’re also working to better understand the workforce needs of manufacturing companies that surround each partner college. To reach our national goal of engaging and training 75,000 individuals over the next three years, we know that we must think nationally, but act locally.  As such, each college will develop its own sector strategy aligned to industry needs in its service area building capacity to drive economic growth within their region, and their state and by doing so, supporting our national imperative to bring back domestic manufacturing.  Each partner college is dedicated to developing innovative and bold solutions that will optimize local worker and workforce systems providing pathways that build a strong manufacturing future.

This consortium is actively engaging to address the national workforce challenge. They openly exchange challenges and successes, collaboratively pinpointing systemic issues and emphasizing those needing federal attention. The aim is to leverage the expertise of our consortium to identify funding and policy obstacles hindering our member schools from best serving their communities.

Whether you’re a manufacturer, educator, or representative of a workforce development organization, you can be part of a critical discussion on how education is transforming to meet industry needs. Register now for SOUTHTEC’s Workforce Day.

Note: Deb Volzer and Raymond James will speak during the Workforce Day keynote presentation, which begins at 10 a.m. October 24. A panel discussion that includes a Q&A session will immediately follow the keynote.

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