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    Part I of our series on the manufacturing skills gap outlined some of the root causes behind the problem, along with steps federal, state and local governments can take to help solve it. But while dedicated funding for apprenticeships programs and more partnerships between government agencies and local colleges will aid in shrinking the skills gap, it won’t be enough to eliminate the issue once and for all.


    Becky McMorrow, Global Product and Supplier Marketing Manager at electronics distributor Newark element14, believes academic institutions must also play a part in ending the skills gap. “Colleges and universities share in the responsibility to train the next generation of industrial engineers. By partnering with manufacturers, college and universities can develop training and internship programs that equip students with the specific, critical skills they will need to be successful and feel fulfilled after graduation.”


    One academic institution is putting those words into action.


    As California’s small and medium-sized manufacturers struggled to find enough qualified candidates to fill job openings, representatives from El Camino College approached the Industrial Fasteners Institute with a simple idea – invest in education. Instead of hiring people they hoped would learn on the job, aerospace-fastener companies offered to donate equipment for classes designed to teach students the technical and soft skills needed to launch their career in manufacturing.


    The 16-week program not only provides students with access to valuable training, but it also enables employers to hire students that have both the necessary skills and interest to succeed. While government funding is one way academic institutions can create apprenticeship and training programs, the money may not always be available. El Camino College’s proactive approach to building relationships with local manufacturers is a great example of how academic institutions can come up with creative solutions of their own.


    Moving forward, it is crucial that other colleges and universities consider forming similar partnerships with nearby manufacturers. After all, one of the main reasons for the skills gap is the disconnect between academic institutions and manufacturers.


    Many colleges and universities have fallen short of providing students with the hands-on experience and technical knowledge required for a career in manufacturing. By working closely with manufacturers to craft training and internship programs, colleges and universities can help fill the skills gap and improve the quality of employees manufacturers hire in the process.


    This is Part II in a three-part to series on the manufacturing skills gap.

    Individual installments in this series: