From School To SencorpWhite: Readying The Next Generation Of Manufacturers

Guest blog by Brain Urban of MHI member SencorpWhite 

SencorpWhite-Internship-2It’s not breaking news that American manufacturing is struggling with a skills gap and that many well-paying positions are going unfilled because candidates simply lack the know-how needed to do the job. Right now, the outlook is grim: A 2015 report from Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute predicts that over the next 10 years, nearly 60% of available manufacturing jobs will be left vacant.

What can manufacturers do to bust popular myths, correct the talent shortfall and fill the much-needed positions? At SencorpWhite, we’re doing our part by developing partnerships right here on Cape Cod, bringing local high school and college students in as interns and giving them the kind of real-world experience that can help steer them into manufacturing careers.

As Michael Esposito, SencorpWhite’s Director of Engineering and Technology said in a recent news article highlighting our award-winning STEM internship partnership with Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School,

“This isn’t a bring-jobs-back-to-the-US problem. There are plenty of manufacturing jobs in the US. This is a let’s-train-and-put-people-to-work problem.”

That’s why Mike has led the School-to-Careers program for us since 2013, providing high school students hands-on experience with jobs in the STEM field. This year’s intern, a young woman named Alyssa Menendez, credits the program with challenging the way she previously thought about engineering as a career, and for giving her the confidence to move forward in a traditionally male-dominated field. We are now working to expand our apprentice program to include skilled workers like machinists, welders and machine assemblers, too. If given the chance, how many more like Alyssa could be inspired to move into the manufacturing workforce?

The earlier we can interest students in STEM and STEM careers, the better, but there’s also plenty of opportunity to engage them after they’ve enrolled in college. Just this month, a Wall Street Journal article suggested that, among other things we can do to revitalize manufacturing in the United States, we “turn community colleges into career factories.” The article notes that manufacturing employers complain that many community college programs are too generalized and require additional on-the-job training for new hires. But you need to look no further than SencorpWhite’s partnership with Cape Cod Community College to find a model that gives future workers the best mix of classroom and manufacturing floor experience. We treat our interns like we would employees, expecting that they will work hard on the floor (instead of working hard to fetch coffee). We rely on their insight and dedication to help us move forward, and they shadow our employees closely to learn every aspect of the work we do on every level. They leave here with a 360-degree view of what a life in manufacturing can really look like and knowing that they have already contributed to the industry through the work they’ve done with us.

I firmly believe that giving high school and college interns real-world engagement and opportunity is critical to the growth of American manufacturing –and that it could very well be critical to the growth of your business, too. Integrating students into your company can provide you with feedback from a fresh perspective and help to invigorate your workforce as your employees consider their roles through the youthful, fascinated eyes of interns. Now more than ever, we must invest our time and expertise in programs and partnerships like these to help buoy the next generation of manufacturers.