You have heard about the gap between the skills employees need in the increasingly sophisticated manufacturing workplace vs. the job skills applicants have. According to Greg Baise, President of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA), significant steps have been taken in Illinois to reduce this gap. He mentioned the leadership of Harper College’s Dr. Ender with the iNAM program as well as the other 20 community colleges involved with the iNAM effort. And IMA’s program, Manufacturers Education Initiative, is getting traction as well. According to Mr. Baise “Our results have been significant. Illinois now leads the nation in the number of credentials earned in machine skills. The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) reports Illinois residents earned 2,285 credentials in 2014 alone. This was an increase of more than 800 over 2013 results.”

But wait, there’s more. He said “Illinois also grew the number of high schools, community colleges and private training providers offering programs of study aligned to the American Welding Society eight-fold. Welding programs are now offered at more than 130 locations around our state.

“Project Lead the Way (PLTW), the popular enrichment program, helps prepare high school students for careers in engineering. Just three short years ago, PLTW added a middle school enrichment program called Gateway to Technology that brings project-based learning to our middle schools. And just this year an enrichment program called Launch was added for elementary schools. The results have been dramatic. Today more than 130 high schools are offering PLTW and another 119 middle schools have added Gateway to Technology to their curriculum.”

So the effort is being made from elementary schools to colleges to improve the job readiness of our applicants. All we need now is for students to apply their talents and learn from these programs to meet the needs of tomorrow’s employers.

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