Maintenance Technology April 2015 - (Page 4)

MY TAKE Priming The Pump: No Heroics Required Jane Alexander Managing Editor 4| O ur publication is not alone in highlighting innovative solutions to industry's skilled-worker crisis. In a March 10 New York Times article, Patricia Cohen discussed growing partnerships between companies and community colleges to sate the "insistent hunger" for welders (one of several "disappearing" critical skills) in the Gulf Coast energy industry. She cited the dollars, expertise and cast-off equipment that Fluor and others contribute to various training programs-including Exxon Mobil's pledge of $1 million to a consortium of nine community colleges. San Jacinto College, south of Houston, is one beneficiary of these partnerships: Based on industry's projections of the skilled workers it will need going forward, San Jacinto now offers training for operators, instrument technicians, structural inspectors and other petrochemical-field jobs. According to Cohen, it "even has a fully operational classroom-size plant where students run a miniature glycol distillation unit." Given today's crisis environment, fast-track initiatives for developing sustainable workforces from among new and/or under-employed workingaged individuals who don't have the skills for in-demand jobs are necessary-and appreciated. Still, we may not need heroics going forward. Priming the workforce-development pump at earlier points in our children's educational journeys is key. As things currently stand, however, we can't rely on often cash-strapped elementary, middle and high schools to go it alone. Innovative solutions to our dilemma are constantly floated at major industry events. These include the recent Manufacturing in America Symposium, presented by Siemens and ElectroMatic, in Detroit, and ABB Automation and Power World 2015, in Houston, both held last month. OEMs, engineering firms, service providers, academia and end-users are all trying to come to grips with industry's skilled-workforce crisis. Mercedes-Benz is one manufacturer taking a sooner-than-later approach. As reported by Dawn Kent Azok in a March 12 post on AL.com, MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY the Tuscaloosa County (Alabama) operations of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc., recently extended the deadline to apply for two of its technical-training programs. According to Kent Azok, the company hoped to strengthen the candidate pool "by targeting high school seniors" and visiting area schools to promote opportunities associated with such training. Currently, 120 students are involved in the two programs, which began three years ago. Since that time, the automaker has hired 90 participants, one-third of whom are now in the plant's Maintenance Apprenticeship program. Siemens and ABB are starting at even earlier stages in the lives of young people-before their senior year of high school-to grow the interests, job-related skills and diversity of industry's future workforce. The Siemens Foundation contributes $7 million annually to STEM-focused educational initiatives that can help close the training gap in American industry. The company's popular "Introduce a Girl to Engineering" program is part of this outreach. This year's activity-filled event at the company's West Chicago plant (the 11th in a series that began in 2005) accommodated 130 eager young ladies in grades 5-12 and their parents-a roughly 30% increase over 2014. And there was a wait-list. ABB's commitment to early workforcedevelopment "pump priming" includes targeting disadvantaged youths and their communities. Among other things, the ABB Foundation has provided financial support to Franklinton Preparatory Academy (franklintonprep.org), a tuition-free public charter school in the Columbus, OH, inner city that empowers students to pursue success in one of "4 Pathways"-college, trade schools, living wage-paying careers or the military. Dan Overly of ABB's Oil, Gas and Chemical Business Unit is President of the school's Board of Education. I've seen these Siemens and ABB programs for myself-albeit briefly. They're models of partnership-approaches that can help deliver the strong flow of skilled workers industry desperately needs. We need more like them. ASAP. MT jalexander@maintenancetechnology.com APRIL 2015 http://www.franklintonprep.org http://www.AL.com

Maintenance Technology April 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Maintenance Technology April 2015

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