Building tomorrow's workforce

 

A newly formed Advanced Manufacturing Advisory Council is the latest chapter in OED’s strategic workforce development efforts on industry-focused training. The Council members include employers themselves, educational and training institutions, and public and nonprofit workforce development agencies.

Advanced manufacturing is not “your father’s manufacturing sector.” It’s defined as precision manufacturing, often requiring high and rapidly evolving levels of technology and innovation; it often requires a high level of unique skill training that is specific to each company.

>>>> OED hosted its first-ever Advanced Manufacturing Expo & Job Fair on Thursday, February 13. Details on this successful and well-attended event here.

>>>> A terrific video produced by OED, "Making Cool Things in Denver," also showcases the opportunities for tomorrow's workforce in advanced manufacturing--using Denver youth as its cast of "interviewers" as they discuss the industry with local manufacturing employers.

Last year, Council members and OED staff spent months interviewing employers and educators on the challenges of modern manufacturing. With this new definition of manufacturing comes a challenging call for a much stronger base of skilled workers ready to meet Denver’s current and future advanced manufacturing needs.

OED Executive Director Paul Washington has acknowledged this workforce development and training challenge as a “skills drought” that organizers hope can be met head-on through this wide-ranging collaborative effort. OED has done a great deal of listening to the manufacturers as well as the training and educating side of the equation, providing us with a deeper understanding of what’s needed to support and grow this industry.

OED has compiled a list of industry resources for both employers and job-seekers in the advanced manufacturing sector. It is available here.

The Council is focused  on three core initiatives. They are:

1 – A comprehensive outreach campaign to raise awareness by Denver’s youth and job-seeking adults that advanced manufacturing means a viable, middle-income wage and is a sustainable vocation.  Denver City Councilwoman Robin Kneich, a vocal proponent of building Denver’s manufacturing sector, describes the sector’s image problem as being too often seen as “dumb, dirty, dangerous or disappearing.” Manufacturing today and tomorrow can be so much more than that, Kneich says.

2 – Defining clear requirements for curriculum development that businesses and educators agree is the smart way to build our workforce, both short-term and long-term, to support a thriving advanced manufacturing sector. “There’s a lot of reading, critical thinking, and a strong focus on math, but it’s also the soft skills of communication and conflict resolution—the kinds of skills that will make it easier for a manufacturing employer to find, train, retain and develop local talent,” Project Manager Liz Ojeda says.

3 – Continue growing the Advanced Manufacturing Youth Academy, a summer initiative launched in 2013 that creates interest in this field by youth and also culminates in a first-level credential that can help open doors to a manufacturing career. Nine youth completed the first-ever summer session and developed ideas for manufuctured products they’d like to see made locally.

Applications for the 2014 Advanced Manufacturing Youth Academy will be available in early 2014.

Employers in the industry are encouraged to contact elizabeth.ojeda@denvergov.org with questions or feedback.

 

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