News > Harness the Home Field Advantage to Grow Future Manufacturing Workforce
Harness the Home Field Advantage to Grow Future Manufacturing Workforce
Harness the Home Field Advantage to Grow Future Manufacturing Workforce

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Deborah Froelich
Allied Machine & Engineering

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Dover, OH  - Workforce recruitment and development are the big buzzwords humming through every factory and machine shop floor. Two factors are amplifying the struggle to find (and keep) great employees in recent years. First, a large portion of manufacturing talent will be eligible to retire by 2020 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The second factor is the new and next generations’ disinterest in manufacturing careers.
Manufacturers are not short on the supply of jobs in their sector, but they are short on demand for those jobs. So how can they reignite interest in manufacturing careers … in both the new and next generations?
The Home Field Advantage
Allied Machine & Engineering is sparking curiosity in the classroom and re-shaping community views about worklife on the plant floor. They cultivate talent from home field via two avenues and both paths lead students to a high-tech, high-wage manufacturing career, right in their own community.
Route #1: Strength Training and Inspiration in the Classroom
According to sources, the skills gap was caused partly by the lack of STEM-educated students in America. Not enough students are prepared to join the high-tech world of manufacturing. With this in mind, Allied Machine started reaching out to classrooms to get students excited about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
 Steve Stokey, Allied Machine’s executive vice president, began work with community leaders, educators, and business owners county-wide to integrate more hands-on STEM courses in local classrooms. A curriculum model created by a nation-wide non-profit called Project Lead the Way (PLTW) helped provide the structure and support needed to start.
PLTW curriculum introduces the fundamentals of STEM to kindergarten through fifth grade classes. Sixth through eighth graders learn about design and modeling, automation and robotics, and the magic of electrons. At the high school level, students choose from pre-engineering, biomedical, and computer science strands. Mr. Stokey calls this curriculum structure strength training for young minds. “We needed a way to develop engineers and technicians with the complete spectrum of skills, including good work ethic, integrity and the aptitude for continuous learning,” says Mr. Stokey.
An annual STEM project competition boasts county-wide participation from elementary students through high school seniors.  Engineers from Allied Machine and other local businesses volunteer as judges for this event, and participation grows exponentially every year. In fact, in 2018 over 300 students competed for accolades in STEM. In 2019, that number grew to over 400 participants.
Another vehicle Allied uses focuses on encouraging young women to consider pursuing a degree in engineering. According to BLS, although women make up 47% of the U.S. labor force, only about 14% of engineers are women.  Allied Machine realized this is a great opportunity to grow the talent pool for manufacturers.
Two Allied engineers, Mary Jo Hanlon and Jamie Rosenberger, have over 38 years of manufacturing and engineering experience collectively. Since they enjoy inspiring young women to get excited about engineering and technical careers, they volunteer annually to speak at the Women in Engineering event held at Kent State University Tuscawaras campus.
Allied Machine also builds incredible partnerships with local technical schools like Buckeye Career Center (BCC). In fact, Allied Machine humbly accepted BCC's 2017 Spotlight Award for their support and contributions to scholarships for area students. They also coordinated with BCC to arrange a New Hire Signing Day event, where they honored four exceptional precision machining students and offered them full-time positions upon graduation. The event was designed to celebrate the students' achievements in academia just as exceptional athletes are celebrated on signing day.
Route #2: Create great curb appeal
At times, members of the community can inadvertently discourage interest in skilled-labor careers by sharing negative stereotypes of manufacturing work life. After all, the plant floor they knew was dark, dirty and dangerous. To this day, a lot of folks have never seen a modern, high-tech production facility.
With this in mind, Allied Machine peaks interest and reframes thinking by creating great curb appeal and opening their doors to the public. Groups from the area visit throughout the year to see modern manufacturing in action. Over the last year Allied has given facility tours to students, educators, career counselors, and many others.
Each year Allied welcomes participants of the Tuscarawas County Dale Lauren Foland Manufacturing Camp and demonstrates the lean manufacturing process. They’ve also hosted tours for Kent State University engineering students in automated manufacturing and process materials courses. Instructors from the Buckeye Career Center spent their 2018 Teacher In Service Day touring the plant floor and gathering input for their curriculum planning.
Allied Machine realizes the industry can’t rest on their laurels in the current environment. Fortunately, they can build bridges with children and community leaders, create wonder and excitement about manufacturing, and cultivate strong manufacturing talent in their own back yards.

Read more about Project Lead the Way curriculum