Workforce Development

Creating an educated workforce for the industry my association represents is one of the key strategic objectives we are focused on. We've been pursuing it since before I joined the association in 2007, and both I and my organization have learned a lot about what does and doesn't work in what is often a complicated and competitive educational marketplace.

Here's an index of posts related to that subject that have appeared on this blog:

Building Partnerships

06/26/17 - Build Before You Change
And only now that this network has been built do I feel that the time is right to try and leverage it for the wholesale change that we seek. In retrospect, building the connections took a great deal of time, but it was time that was necessary. Without the right partners, there is little chance that we would be able to create the kind of change we feel we need.


04/01/19 - Back on Campus
Reflecting on that makes me realize how much college is a time for social as well as professional development. High school kids are still kids, but college students are young men and women. That gap was clear, but so were the ways in which that gap could begin to be bridged.

Connecting to an Educated Workforce

10/10/16 - Fixing the Leaky Pipeline
So there it is. Three reasons why the workforce pipeline you're building may be leakier than you think. Your association doesn't control the flow of students, your member companies are too busy to engage, and building education programs without industry feedback won't produce education your industry needs.

10/03/16 - Education Is Not Enough
Yes, we must support and deliver "education programs"--courses, curriculum and certifications meant to educate more people in the competencies and soft skills required by our industry. But we can't stop there. We must also support and deliver "connection programs"--websites, career fairs and conferences that are designed to bring hiring managers from our member companies in contact with the people being impacted by our education programs.

Measuring Success

08/06/18 - We Are Making a Difference
Any objective measure of our focus and activity today will show a tremendous advance over where we were when we started. But still, the need is great, and most of the time it feels like we're emptying the ocean with a teaspoon. It's easy to lose perspective on all the good things we've accomplished when the problem we were tasked with solving remains unresolved.

03/13/17 - Success Happens at the Arrows
Success happens not at the flowchart boxes, each representing one of the programs in the chain, but at the arrows that connect them. Educating students is an important part of the process, but what matters most is moving students from one program to the next.

02/06/17 - Starting with the End in Mind
At one point, I asked the room a question. How many of you have a specific target for the number of students you're looking to educate? Not a single hand in the room went up.


03/18/19 - Engineering for Eighth Graders
My association sponsors an outreach and education program for eighth graders. We call it the Fluid Power Action Challenge, and we've positioned it as it part of a series of programs to introduce the technology my association represents to young people and then to provide a pathway of activities through high school and college that brings them into careers in our industry.


04/22/19 - Risk and Reward
Our goal, as strange as it may be to say, is not to actually develop any new technology for our industry. It is, instead, to engage the academic community in research projects that are important to our industry.

11/14/16 - Research Is Education
So, on the advice of some of our academic partners, we tried a different approach: supporting research projects related to our technology on the intended campuses. There was some initial (and still some lingering) pushback from our member companies on the idea. They didn't easily see the connection between sponsoring research and educating undergraduate engineers in our technology.

Workforce Targets

05/29/17 - Get Specific About Your Workforce Needs
Everyone was talking about workforce development, but some were talking about welders, some were talking about maintenance techs, and some were talking about degreed enigineers. While everyone was talking about fruit, it wasn't always apparent that some were talking about apples and others were talking about oranges.

Working with Technical Colleges

08/12/19 - Creating an Educated Workforce in Three Phases
As I sat up there on stage listening to my co-panelists talk about the work their associations were doing to develop educated workforces for their industries, I quickly recomposed what I was planning to say in my head. Instead of focusing on the four stacked programs I described in my previous post, I described what I saw as the three phases my association had (so far) gone through in our journey towards building a better educated workforce.

07/29/19 - Developing an Educated Workforce with Technical Colleges
But it's not just the technical colleges that get our attention. In order to make sure there are enough students in the programs that they offer, we also have to work with high schools and even middle schools in the same communities to make sure there is a "pipeline" of students interested in pursuing this line of education and getting jobs in this industry.

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