Leveraging the next generation workforce is a viable solution to the worker shortage. Yet, it’s only being utilized in a small percentage of area manufacturing companies. Enter the Golden Corridor Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (GCAMP).
The not-for-profit introduced manufacturers to the next generation workforce at its semi-annual Manufacturers Breakfast, to show them how many of today’s students are highly skilled, capable and willing to forge careers in manufacturing.
During the program, held on Friday, Nov. 8 at Schaumburg High School, Career and Technical Education (CTE) students from School District 211 (Schaumburg, Palatine, Conant, Fremd and Hoffman Estates High Schools) led manufacturers, municipal leaders and representatives from workforce development agencies through manufacturing labs displaying their challenge projects. Highly technical and well-done, the projects these students designed and built included: high mileage vehicles; reverse engineered robots; underwater robotics; and 3D Printing. In detail, the students explained how they took their ideas from conception to reality. Afterward, they participated in a panel discussion and shared how they became interested in advanced manufacturing. Programs like “Project Lead the Way”, which is an introduction to engineering, as well as summer employment at local manufacturing companies, helped build their interest.
Representatives from High School District 211, as well as neighboring High School District 214 (Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Hersey, Prospect Rolling Meadows and Wheeling High School) and Harper Community College, offered their own solution: working together to develop curriculums to meet manufacturers’ business needs. Melissa MacGregor, workforce grant manager at Harper, said the college can collaborate with manufacturers to customize apprenticeships or career training plans to suit their skills requirements. It’s a service utilized by Anthony Rubino, Apprenticeship Program-Academy Supervisor, GF Machining Solutions, for the five to eight apprentices the company takes on each year. “You don’t have to wait three years to get a return on investment,” he said of training young professionals. Another big proponent of hiring students from area high schools, both as interns as well as graduated employees, is Greg Ohm, general manager, Bingaman-Precision Metal Spinning Corporation. His program has been so successful, he doesn’t have to seek out students to hire, they come to him. Representatives from ICATT and TMA touted their apprenticeship programs as another resource for manufacturers to develop skilled employees.
Now, thanks to Senate Bill 1591, there is even more incentive to take on apprentices. Sponsored by Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) and signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker on August 2, 2019, SB 1591 (http://www.senatoranngillespie.org/news/36-gillespie-creates-new-apprenticeship-tax-credit) gives manufacturers a tax credit of $3,500 per apprentice each year—potentially with an additional $1,500 available for businesses hiring individuals from underserved areas —for the cost of tuition, books and lab fees at schools or community colleges for programs certified by the U.S. Department of Labor.