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Training & Education

Working together

By Deanna Postlethwaite

Addressing the skills gap in U.S. manufacturing, not just arguing it

July/August 2013 - The mainstream media have picked up on the skills gap challenge, bemoaning the lack of qualified skilled workers in U.S. manufacturing. But if you talk to anyone on the front line, such as manufacturers like Cleveland Tank or educational institutions like Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland, they present an inspiring story—one of innovation, hard work and excitement for the future of U.S. manufacturing. 

Many plants in northeast Ohio and throughout the U.S. have busy production floors that require welders, machinists, CNC operators and more. These skills and jobs are driving technical career centers and colleges to address and upgrade their equipment solutions, their teaching methodology and their recruitment plans to ensure they find, teach and produce the future generations of the American manufacturing workforce. This is not semantics—this is the solution.

“Our center exists to find, train and place the right people in the right jobs—it is always all about jobs,” says Susan Muha, executive vice president of workforce and economic development at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), in reference to the college’s new Advanced Technology Training Center (ATTC). 

The center opened in late 2012 and offers a state-of-the-art welding lab designed for quick change out of equipment and technologies. This training program implements not only traditional welding training, but it also integrates virtual welding training in the curriculum. 

The virtual reality welding training simulator allows welding instruction to take place in a classroom environment on a big screen so educators may present and identify proper techniques, as well as improper welding actions. It also can be used in a teamwork setting with two welding students collaborating and working together.  In addition to incorporating this innovative technology into lesson plans, the college also has implemented robotic welding training—another key skill in today’s technology-focused manufacturing and fabricating environments.

Jobs, indeed, are out there and they’re plentiful. These opportunities come from manufacturers and fabricators in all shapes and sizes—companies challenged to find ways to increase output and improve productivity with the highest quality and safety.

“There are many manufacturing-technology jobs available, and those jobs continue to grow,” Muha explains. “The reality is that everyone will have, at some point, a certain amount of advanced technical skills. Yesterday we did things by hand, and we did things in agrarian societies that we don’t do now. Technology is changing so quickly, and with these changes it is our job to prepare people to work in such an environment.”

Manufacturing industry employee Barry Kostura, who is taking classes at Tri-C specifically designed for General Motors, sees welding education as the key to job security and growth. “Skilled trades are the basis of a good economy,” Kostura says. “Without manufacturing and the ability to repair things, the economy is not good. This is a good career choice.” 

The global reach of this already competitive climate of American manufacturing compounds the situation. Manufacturers need to attract, hire and retain people who have the right skills to keep operations dynamic and viable at all times, whether the company is a small job shop or a global giant.  As such, there’s an inherent and essential need for communication and collaboration between education and manufacturing to bridge this skills gap and fill the pipeline with people who have the right capabilities and knowledge.

Institutions like Tri-C that demonstrate the technology, viability and excitement of a manufacturing career to the public, media, parents, teachers, counselors and students, are helping to solve the skills gap issue. FFJ

Deanna Postlethwaite is the Virtual Reality Welding Business Unit Manager for The Lincoln Electric Company, Automation Division.

 

Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

IRONWORKERS

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

LASER TECHNOLOGY

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC. Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

Mazak Optonics Corp.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

BEVELING

TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

COIL PROCESSING

MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

Bradbury Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group EMH Crane Rolleri USA Nidec Press & Automation
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc.

PRESS BRAKES

STEEL

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial AMADA AMERICA, INC. Alliance Steel
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

Automec Inc.

TUBE & PIPE

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies MC Machinery Systems Inc. BLM Group
Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

SafanDarley HGG Profiling Equipment Inc.

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc.

PUNCHING

Prudential Stainless & Alloys
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit Hougen Manufacturing

WATERJET

Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc.

SAWING

Barton International
Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. Behringer Saws Inc. Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

Cosen Saws Omax Corp.
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. DoALL Sawing

WELDING

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

MetalForming Inc. HE&M Saw American Weldquip
Beckwood Press Co.

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

Savage Saws Strong Hand Tools
Triform Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

T. J. Snow Company

TPMG2022 Brands


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