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• 70% rated recent entry-level hires’ knowledge of basic manufacturing principles as “fair” to “very poor.”


• 66% of manufacturers surveyed somewhat agreed or strongly agreed that the state should have a stan- dardized manufacturing skills credential system that certifies workers for competencies at the entry-level through college level.


• 65% somewhat or strongly agreed that the public im- age of manufacturing is a major contributing factor to the problems employers experience in recruiting.


To address the challenges, several steps were taken to improve Virginia’s workforce training and development. For example, the Virginia Industry Foundation, in part- nership with the Virginia Manufacturers Association and the National Association of Manufacturers, launched Dream It Do It Virginia (DIDIVA) in 2009, an award-winning program that


ing to employment upon technology commercialization; host advanced technology “summer camps” for students.


2. Readiness—strengthen workforce readiness skills programs across all grade levels, and include “applied technology” as a skills readiness indicator.


3. Education and training—leverage insight from CCAM’s collaboration between business and academia to deter- mine industry’s most critical skill needs.


4. Assessment and Certification—strengthen certifications with industry-validated credentials and input.


5. Employment and Advancement—leverage online and in-person career resources to develop a pipeline of tal- ent and connect it with industry opportunities. The program positions DIDIVA as a single point of contact for industry and workers to access workforce development programs and provide feedback. Plugging CCAM into the


Keep your eyes on Virginia. Exciting new projects like CCAM and the new Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development framework it is inspiring are providing the tools and blueprints required to bridge the skills gap.


promotes careers in advanced technology industries such as manufacturing and connects talent to them. Through continuing research and evaluation of programs


like DIDIVA, however, it became clear that existing workforce development fell short. Schools, community colleges, universi- ties and training centers develop and deliver excellent educa- tional programs, but they do so independently. There is not a consistent method used across all organizations to develop and deliver programs with direct input from industry. CCAM aims to bring that “direct connection,” and it’s inspiring some new thinking.


More Education and Training The Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Program


is a new training and educational framework for skills development. It is currently in the proposal stage and under consideration by government and industry organizations with a stake in advanced manufacturing. At its core, it proposes to capitalize on existing workforce development strengths, such as DIDIVA, and better tailor them to industry needs through stronger industry connections. The program is supported by five pillars: 1. Exploration—position DIDIVA as a workforce gateway for industry, centralizing and coordinating outreach and awareness activities; establish internships at CCAM lead-


mix, with its daily collaboration between industry and higher education, further strengthens industry’s direct involvement in the state’s workforce development initiatives.


Bridging the Gap


This approach, over time, develops an integrated work- force development system for Virginia that is aligned with the needs of the advanced manufacturing industry. It brings the state’s many excellent, but widely distributed, workforce development resources together in a cohesive system. There will also be a clear set of metrics, such as the Skills Gap Analysis, to measure the effectiveness and ef- ficiency of the system, ensuring that decisions are rooted on solid, industry-driven research.


According to some reports, more than 600,000 US manu- facturing jobs have gone unfilled because industry cannot find workers with the required skills. New collaborative efforts are warranted and necessary.


Keep your eyes on Virginia. Exciting new projects like CCAM and the new Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development framework it is inspiring are providing the tools and blueprints required to bridge the gap. The work underway can create the ideal conditions for industry growth, helping advanced manufacturing achieve new heights. ME


March 2013 | ManufacturingEngineeringMedia.com 143


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