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WORKFORCE PIPELINE A MONTHLY FEATURE ABOUT TRAINING, EDUCATION & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT


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Simulated Workforce Program Puts Students in Charge To ensure our students are career-ready, we have built a


oday, eight out of 10 manufacturers are worried about meeting their workforce requirements within the next five years. Many of these companies say they have openings for specific jobs, but they can’t find enough reliable employees who show up for work, pass drug tests, or even have a positive work ethic. While the demand for a highly skilled and reliable workforce continues to grow among busi- ness and industry leaders, a new initiative in West Virginia is taking steps to tackle this concern. Through the West Virginia Department of Education Simulated Workplace program, high school junior and senior students are learning accountability and technical skills as part of an initiative to boost their professional careers in manufacturing. One of the schools piloting the program is the United Technical Center (UTC; Clarksburg, WV). As part of the initiative, students have access to online training through Tooling U-SME, while gaining hands-on skills at the school’s Precision Machining Co. UTC’s program operates like a business, which creates an authentic work environment to prepare the students for future manufacturing careers. Precision Machining Co. is, in fact, UTC’s Simulated


Workplace, which the students named the Precision Ma- chining Co. It operates like a machine shop and puts the students in charge. They rotate through job roles such as foreman, project manager, and toolroom attendant.


Two-Year Program The Career Technical Education (CTE) program at UTC spans two years and welcomes juniors and seniors from eight high schools across a three-county area. Students learn how to run a variety of machining equipment includ- ing lathe, mill, grinder, drill press, CNC turning center, and CNC machining center. Technical skills are not all the stu- dents gain from this program. Soft skills such as punctual- ity and cooperation are also an important takeaway from the experience.


110 AdvancedManufacturing.org | September 2016


strong partnership between schools, industry partners like Tooling U-SME, and our community. Spearheaded by the West Virginia Department of Educa-


tion in collaboration with experts from several businesses and industries in West Virginia, the Simulated Workplace program was created to help schools integrate workplace protocols that align with West Virginia’s workforce requirements. Businesses leaders worked with the state’s Department of Education to develop processes for the Simulated Workforce program, and they came up with a template for students to use when developing policies and procedures for their companies. Once a school’s Simulated Workplace program is up and run- ning, West Virginia business leaders take one day out of the year to visit these student-led companies and inspect how well they are doing as well as determine the effectiveness of the program.


Staying on the Right Track This direction is a win-win for everyone. The process gives educators an idea whether they are on the right track, business and industry have a chance to see how future employees are advancing—they can make tweaks along the way to meet the demands of their businesses—and students sometimes find summer internships or even job opportunities right out of high school. This type of program is important because not only does it enhance the instructor’s delivery of career education and create students who are more engaged in their career devel- opment, but also because Simulated Workforce programs help fill the pipeline with a much-needed trained talent in industries lacking a qualified and dependable workforce. These programs introduce students to various business


processes using 12 different measurement areas, including on-site business reviews, company meetings, project-based learning/student engagement, and a formal attendance system. The West Virginia Simulated Workplace Program al-


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