This last week, we held our quarterly meeting for our manufacturing partners for our Manufacturing Connect (MC) program at Bowen High School. In attendance was WaterSaver Faucet, Ford Motor Company, ArcelorMittal USA, Dakkota Integrated Systems, Vesuvius USA, BSD Industries, Laystrom Manufacturing, Axletech, ZF Chasis, and others. It was a great exchange between companies, educators, and our professionals who work with our students.
Manufacturing Renaissance has been focused on the Skills Gap challenge for the last 18 years—starting with a major study done in partnership with the Chicago Federation of Labor on the relationship between the public education system and the manufacturing sector in 2001. We found a serious existential challenge for the manufacturing sector that required a solution.
We developed the Manufacturing Connect program that is designed to link public high schools to the regional manufacturing sector. Our first program was developed at Austin College and Career Academy on Chicago’s West Side. The MC program now has 180 participating students across the three schools we operate in. All participants are given the education, training, and work exposure that prepares then for meaningful careers in advanced manufacturing.
Our latest program is at Bowen High School on Chicago’s South Side. We are just into the first year of this program in partnership with Chicago Public Schools. We have:
25 participants enrolled in the MC program. They are participating in plant tours, job-shadowing experiences, and internships.
100 participants will be taking their first tests to secure credentials from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) in June.
34 participants have qualified to be in a work study program as seniors next year—they will spend half the day in school and half the day working in a manufacturing company.
This is a remarkable start for a program in its first year. It’s and indicator of how these programs can take hold in meeting the needs of companies, of our students and ultimately of our communities.