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Ryan E. Day


Engineering a Workforce

Scholarships and Manufacturing Day combine to address the skills gap

Published: Thursday, October 3, 2019 - 12:02

Every year, Manufacturing Day brings attention to the career path that has financed millions of growing families throughout the decades—including mine. This attention also recalls the ongoing shortage of people to fill the thousands of available jobs in manufacturing. The same can be said for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers that go hand-in-glove with manufacturing. According to a 2018 Deloitte study, the lack of manufacturing workers could result in the United States losing up to $454 billion in the GDP.

The fact that so much wealth will go untapped by prospective employees is a poignant reminder of the need to shine a light on the various ways that some people and organizations are taking positive steps to mitigate the issue. One of the companies taking action is CNC Machines in Sanford, Florida. Founded in 2014, CNC Machines has grown to become one of North America’s top three used machinery dealers and named one of Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the United States.

“The question is, even if we see growth in the future of U.S. manufacturing, who will be the workforce?” asks Jonathan Alonzo, marketing executive at CNC Machines.“We’ve just announced our annual U.S. manufacturing scholarship for students studying manufacturing, engineering, and related fields. The purpose of this scholarship is to highlight the need to continue investing in the manufacturing skills gap in the United States. We want to set the example and encourage other manufacturing and engineering companies to look into creating their own scholarship programs instead of just relying on trade associations.”

CNC Machines has a very proactive attitude about the shortage situation.

“If we want to grow the U.S. manufacturing industry, we need to build a strong workforce that is ready to handle the scale of work that we can potentially see,” says Curt Doherty CEO of CNC Machines. “Even in times of low confidence, such as now with the current manufacturing index being down, we can’t stop investments in STEM, community after-school programs, and university scholarships that can help fund the future generations of manufacturers in America.”

Another Florida organization making a difference in the troubling trend of skills shortage is Florida Polytechnic Institute (Florida Poly). Florida Poly’s Stem Study website highlights STEM scholarship opportunities for prospective students: “Figuring out how to pay for higher education can be a daunting task. But with independent scholarships, students can lower the financial burden of tuition without taking out loans. Some scholarships also have internship opportunities, offering young minds a chance to make valuable industry connections and gain experience at the nation’s largest tech and engineering companies.”

Stem Study’s list includes scholarships for high-school students entering a STEM program; general, broad-focused scholarships, and scholarships specifically for women and minorities.

The responsibility of growing a skilled workforce is, of course, shared by those individuals in and entering the workforce. We are fortunate indeed to live in an age where we have access to multiple avenues to level up our skills and experience. It behooves all interested in pursuing a rewarding STEM/manufacturing career to dig into these resources and make the most of the opportunities they represent. Some of these resources include manufacturing internships such as:
Job Corps

Rounding out this quick peek at movers and shakers is the Manufacturing Day organization itself. In addition to organizing, promoting, and hosting the annual event, it also provides a database of scholarship opportunities for those interested in a manufacturing career. This handy resource includes the ability to refine your search by education status, school type, and citizenship status.

There are also many local internships available. And who knows? Maybe an internet search with keywords such as “manufacturing intern,” or “engineering intern” could lead to you being an answer to the skills shortage.


About The Author

Ryan E. Day’s picture

Ryan E. Day

Ryan E. Day is Quality Digest’s senior editor for solution-based reporting, which brings together those seeking business improvement solutions and solution providers. Day has spent the last decade researching and interviewing top business leaders and continuous improvement experts at companies like Sakor, Ford, Merchandize Liquidators, Olympus, 3D Systems, Hexagon, Intertek, InfinityQS, Johnson Controls, FARO, and Eckel Industries. Most of his reporting is done with the help of his 20-lb tabby cat at his side.