“The Superhero Generation”: Microsoft and York Exponential Collaborate on Upskilling

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“The Superhero Generation”: Microsoft and York Exponential Collaborate on Upskilling

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Residents of York, Pennsylvania, will proudly tell you about the role it played in the “Arsenal of Democracy” during World War II. Today, the town is drawing on that manufacturing heritage as it adapts to the digital age. And among the leaders of the transformation is the collaborative robotics startup York Exponential, which has partnered with Microsoft’s new skills initiative to help York residents get the education they need for high-tech manufacturing jobs.

The initiative: Microsoft’s global skills initiative is designed to help 25 million people worldwide gain digital skills by the end of the year. It is intended to offer rising and mid-career professionals the skills they need to succeed in a changing economy—both during and after COVID-19. The program also includes partnerships with local companies like York Exponential that seek to upskill workers.

“If there’s maximum digital transformation in the U.S. post-COVID, we believe there is capacity in the United States for the manufacturing sector to absorb more than a million new roles in technology,” said Microsoft Philanthropies General Manager of Digital Inclusion Naria Santa Lucia.

How it works: Microsoft uses LinkedIn data to identify jobs that are in demand, projected to grow in the future and accessible to applicants without a related degree. It offers free learning content to help people develop the skills those jobs require, including soft skills like virtual collaboration. The initiative also offers certifications and job-seeking tools to connect people with applicable jobs.

In practice: York Exponential is looking to add well-rounded employees—new workers proficient in digital skills as well as experienced workers who can gain new qualifications, said CEO John McElligott. The company is combining its own community outreach—including through its training school, the Fortress Academy—with Microsoft’s tools to help students and employees gain the qualifications they need to be successful.

Why partnerships matter: Partnerships like this one offer exponential benefits by joining large-scale training efforts and resources with local talent.

  • From Microsoft: “The most important consideration is locally-based entities that are trusted by the community,” said Santa Lucia. “If we’re going to change this economy and who has access to it, it’s about the networks you’re introduced to and who is going to connect you where you need to go. The content is important, but it’s really about that personal connectivity. That’s how we get to jobs.”
  • From York Exponential: “Communities like us are often overlooked,” said McElligott. “People go to major metropolitan areas and big cities. So the fact that we’re having these discussions with Microsoft means a lot—an initiative of this size could have an outsized impact on a community as small as us.”

The last word: “This generation growing up today is the superhero generation,” said McElligott. “They grew up watching the Avengers, in a world where everything is robotics and superpowers. They are primed to do amazing things with technology—and to build things for their families, their communities and their country.”

October is Manufacturing Month and a perfect time to check out the exciting careers and training opportunities available from companies like Microsoft and York Exponential. There are still many events left, including an October 28 capstone event presented by Microsoft and called “Creators Wanted: Empowering a Diverse and Sustainable Manufacturing Workforce.” You can find the list of events at creatorswanted.org.  

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“The Superhero Generation”: Microsoft and York Exponential Collaborate on Upskilling

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Residents of York, Pennsylvania, will proudly tell you about the role it played in the “Arsenal of Democracy” during World War II. Today, the town is drawing on that manufacturing heritage as it adapts to the digital age. And among the leaders of the transformation is the collaborative robotics startup York Exponential, which has partnered with Microsoft’s new skills initiative to help York residents get the education they need for high-tech manufacturing jobs.

The initiative: Microsoft’s global skills initiative is designed to help 25 million people worldwide gain digital skills by the end of the year. It is intended to offer rising and mid-career professionals the skills they need to succeed in a changing economy—both during and after COVID-19. The program also includes partnerships with local companies like York Exponential that seek to upskill workers.

“If there’s maximum digital transformation in the U.S. post-COVID, we believe there is capacity in the United States for the manufacturing sector to absorb more than a million new roles in technology,” said Microsoft Philanthropies General Manager of Digital Inclusion Naria Santa Lucia.

How it works: Microsoft uses LinkedIn data to identify jobs that are in demand, projected to grow in the future and accessible to applicants without a related degree. It offers free learning content to help people develop the skills those jobs require, including soft skills like virtual collaboration. The initiative also offers certifications and job-seeking tools to connect people with applicable jobs.

In practice: York Exponential is looking to add well-rounded employees—new workers proficient in digital skills as well as experienced workers who can gain new qualifications, said CEO John McElligott. The company is combining its own community outreach with Microsoft’s curriculum and skill tools to help new and existing employees alike gain the qualifications they need to be successful.

Why partnerships matter: Partnerships like this one offer exponential benefits by joining large-scale training efforts and resources with local talent.

  • From Microsoft: “The most important consideration is locally-based entities that are trusted by the community,” said Santa Lucia. “If we’re going to change this economy and who has access to it, it’s about the networks you’re introduced to and who is going to connect you where you need to go. The content is important, but it’s really about that personal connectivity. That’s how we get to jobs.”
  • From York Exponential: “Communities like us are often overlooked,” said McElligott. “People go to major metropolitan areas and big cities. So the fact that we’re having these discussions with Microsoft means a lot—an initiative of this size could have an outsized impact on a community as small as us.”

The last word: “This generation growing up today is the superhero generation,” said McElligott. “They grew up watching the Avengers, in a world where everything is robotics and superpowers. They are primed to do amazing things with technology—and to build things for their families, their communities and their country.”

October is Manufacturing Month and a perfect time to check out the exciting careers and training opportunities available from companies like Microsoft and York Exponential. There are still many events left, including an October 28 capstone event presented by Microsoft and called “Creators Wanted: Empowering a Diverse and Sustainable Manufacturing Workforce.” You can find the list of events at creatorswanted.org.  

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“The Superhero Generation”: Microsoft and York Exponential Collaborate on Upskilling

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Residents of York, Pennsylvania, will proudly tell you about the role it played in the “Arsenal of Democracy” during World War II. Today, the town is drawing on that manufacturing heritage as it adapts to the digital age. And among the leaders of the transformation is the collaborative robotics startup York Exponential, which has partnered with Microsoft’s new skills initiative to help York residents get the education they need for high-tech manufacturing jobs.

The initiative: Microsoft’s global skills initiative is designed to help 25 million people worldwide gain digital skills by the end of the year. It is intended to offer rising and mid-career professionals the skills they need to succeed in a changing economy—both during and after COVID-19. The program also includes partnerships with local companies like York Exponential that seek to upskill workers.

“If there’s maximum digital transformation in the U.S. post-COVID, we believe there is capacity in the United States for the manufacturing sector to absorb more than a million new roles in technology,” said Microsoft Philanthropies General Manager of Digital Inclusion Naria Santa Lucia.

How it works: Microsoft uses LinkedIn data to identify jobs that are in demand, projected to grow in the future and accessible to applicants without a related degree. It offers free learning content to help people develop the skills those jobs require, including soft skills like virtual collaboration. The initiative also offers certifications and job-seeking tools to connect people with applicable jobs.

In practice: York Exponential is looking to add well-rounded employees—new workers proficient in digital skills as well as experienced workers who can gain new qualifications, said CEO John McElligott. The company is combining its own community outreach with Microsoft’s curriculum and skill tools to help new and existing employees alike gain the qualifications they need to be successful.

Why partnerships matter: Partnerships like this one offer exponential benefits by joining large-scale training efforts and resources with local talent.

  • From Microsoft: “The most important consideration is locally-based entities that are trusted by the community,” said Santa Lucia. “If we’re going to change this economy and who has access to it, it’s about the networks you’re introduced to and who is going to connect you where you need to go. The content is important, but it’s really about that personal connectivity. That’s how we get to jobs.”
  • From York Exponential: “Communities like us are often overlooked,” said McElligott. “People go to major metropolitan areas and big cities. So the fact that we’re having these discussions with Microsoft means a lot—an initiative of this size could have an outsized impact on a community as small as us.”

The last word: “This generation growing up today is the superhero generation,” said McElligott. “They grew up watching the Avengers, in a world where everything is robotics and superpowers. They are primed to do amazing things with technology—and to build things for their families, their communities and their country.”

October is Manufacturing Month and a perfect time to check out the exciting careers and training opportunities available from companies like Microsoft and York Exponential. There are still many events left, including an October 28 capstone event presented by Microsoft and called “Creators Wanted: Empowering a Diverse and Sustainable Manufacturing Workforce.” You can find the list of events at creatorswanted.org.  

Workforce

FAME Is All It’s Cracked Up to Be

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Would you believe that one apprenticeship program could add $45,000 to its graduates’ salaries? It sounds incredible, but that figure is from a new study by Opportunity America and the Brookings Institution. And the program in question is Kentucky FAME, part of the wider FAME program that was originally founded by Toyota before its stewardship was transitioned to The Manufacturing Institute. FAME is now operating in 14 states.

As regular Input readers know, FAME students earn a two-year associate degree while working in their sponsor’s manufacturing facility as an Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT). This new study shows how much the students—and by extension their employers—get out of the deal.

Here are some highlights:

  • The need for apprenticeships: “Today, two-thirds of jobs require some postsecondary education or training—not necessarily a four-year college degree, but some more specialized technical or nontechnical preparation for the world of work.”
  • FAME’s effectiveness: “FAME participants were significantly more likely than non-FAME participants to complete their program of study—roughly 80 percent of FAME students graduated, compared with 29 percent of non-FAME students.”
  • The results: “Five years after completion, FAME graduates were earning nearly $98,000, compared to roughly $52,783 for non-FAME participants—a difference of more than $45,000 a year.”
  • The seal of approval: “Graduates’ reviews of the FAME experience were overwhelmingly positive. A total of 97 percent said they felt that enrolling in FAME was the right decision for them, and all but 3 percent said they would recommend it to a close friend or relative.”

The MI says: MI Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Gardner Carrick said of the study, “The results are amazing and confirm that FAME is a global-best program. We hope manufacturers will join us in expanding FAME to their community and offering people across the country the chance to see similar success.”

Publicity alert: Check out a story about the report in The Wall Street Journal (subscription). Meanwhile, Opportunity America hosted a webinar about the study yesterday, featuring Carrick among other speakers.

. . . and more: The MI and FAME are hosting a “FAME Live!” virtual event tomorrow, Oct. 21. Manufacturers with open skilled maintenance positions are invited to tune in here.

Business Operations

Why America Is a Great Location for Manufacturers

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Manufacturing is a key driver of the American economy—but how does manufacturing in the United States stack up against the rest of the world?

Recently, The Manufacturing Institute and KPMG—a professional services firms providing innovative business solutions and audit, tax, and advisory services—released a new assessment of the cost of doing business in the manufacturing sector for the United States and 16 other major manufacturing exporting nations around the globe.

High costs, but high value: The study found that primary costs (compensation, property, utilities, taxes and interest rates) in the U.S. are on average 16% higher than in the other markets—yet the U.S. ranks fairly high on the list overall at #5.

  • Another number bears that out: over the past decade, foreign direct investment in U.S. manufacturing has jumped from $569.3 billion in 2006 to a record $1,785.7 billion in 2019.

The benefits of tax reform: Tax reform made the U.S. a more desirable location for manufacturers, the study found. It compared how the U.S. would have ranked with its pre-reform corporate tax rate of 40% (the combined federal and state tax rate) instead of the post-reform corporate rate of 27%. With the old rate, the U.S. would have ranked only 11th.

The benefits of skilled workers: A major U.S. advantage is its supply of high-skilled workers. According to the study, the U.S. ranks at the top of the list for real value added per employee, along with Ireland and Switzerland. As manufacturing has become increasingly advanced, the need for sophisticated employees keeps growing.

While it’s true that American manufacturing requires more skilled workers, as The Manufacturing Institute has previously shown, the existing workforce is still a big draw due to its productivity.

The bottom line: The United States is an attractive location for manufacturers, despite relatively high costs, because of high worker productivity and the overall business environment.

The last word: “We need to continue to push the envelope of technological innovation and workforce development and recruitment in the manufacturing sector,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers and director of the Center for Manufacturing Research at The Manufacturing Institute. “These efforts will serve to strengthen the sector overall, but also help to maintain the nation’s global competitiveness.”

Workforce

Virtual MFG Day Was a Success

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MFG Day 2020 looked a little different from last year, as the events celebrating modern manufacturing happened online instead of in person. But even amid the pandemic, there was a widespread outpouring of support for manufacturing, including from many policymakers. Here are some highlights, and a look at what’s next.

Bipartisan celebrations: The White House issued a proclamation on Thursday night designating Oct. 2 as National Manufacturing Day, while at least 28 governors and leading members of Congress marked the occasion by proclamation or on social media.

Virtual shop floor tours: Meanwhile, hundreds of manufacturers—in 49 states—invited students to “tour” their facilities via virtual events.

News coverage: MFG Day was also covered by traditional publications. Watch NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons on Yahoo! Finance discussing MFG Day and the need to practice safe social behaviors to combat COVID-19. And read two op-eds by Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee on the importance of MFG Day, in the Indianapolis Star and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Still more to come: Be sure to join us on Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 12:00 p.m. EDT for another flagship event (presented by Walmart) on how manufacturers are stepping up in response to COVID-19. You can also find more events throughout October on CreatorsWanted.org.

And don’t forget to share your own celebrations of manufacturing by using the hashtags #MFGDay20 and #CreatorsWanted on social media.

Workforce

MFG Day Is Here!

Today is MFG Day 2020—the year’s largest day of action for modern manufacturing. But it doesn’t stop there: MFG Day launches a month full of manufacturing events, as companies and educational institutions show students, parents, teachers and community leaders the great careers that manufacturing has to offer.

A new look: Thanks to the pandemic, the annual tradition of manufacturing open houses has been transformed into a series of mostly virtual events. This year’s MFG Day will be like no other, offering opportunities for more connection and participation across the industry and country without the limitations of physical events and travel. Hundreds of events will be held throughout October.

A full schedule of national, local and regional events can be found at creatorswanted.org. The Manufacturing Institute is also hosting a series of flagship virtual events, including “Creators Wanted: A Program for America’s Students” today at 12:00 p.m. EDT, presented by Salesforce, PTC and Rockwell Automation, and “Creators Wanted: A Program for America’s Teachers” on Monday, Oct. 5, at 12:00 p.m. EDT, presented by PTC. Share these programs with your networks!

A word from the MI: “As we celebrate MFG Day across the country over the next month, we are reminded of the important role that modern manufacturing plays in each of our lives. From the masks and clothes we wear to the food we eat, modern manufacturing is at the heart of our country and, as the pandemic continues, will lead the way to our recovery and renewal,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “This year’s MFG Day, more so than ever before, is a uniquely powerful opportunity to bring awareness to the high-paying, rewarding and meaningful career opportunities in our industry and to open minds to what’s possible with a career in modern manufacturing.”

And . . . Make sure to use the right hashtags to amplify the story of MFG Day: #MFGDay2020 and #CreatorsWanted.

Workforce

MFG Day Gets Celebrity Boost

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The success of MFG Day every year depends on the grassroots efforts of manufacturers and manufacturing-supporting organizations across the country. While COVID-19 has changed many MFG Day plans, it hasn’t changed that core reality. But this year, those efforts will be enhanced by virtual MFG Day events organized by The Manufacturing Institute.

  • First, on Friday, Oct. 2, at 12:00 p.m. EDT, there’s a program for America’s students headlined by The Space Gal, Emily Dawn Calandrelli, host and co-executive producer of Netflix’s Emily’s Wonder Lab and FOX’s Xploration Outer Space. It’s designed to get students excited about opportunities in the manufacturing industry. The program is presented by Salesforce, PTC and Rockwell Automation, and you can find more information here.
  • Second, on Monday, Oct. 5, at 12:00 p.m. EDT, there’s a program to help teachers learn more about what’s possible for their students in a modern manufacturing career. The program is headlined by Allen Gannett, technology entrepreneur and author of “The Creative Curve,” and presented by PTC. You can find more information and register for the event here.

Stay tuned: The MI will be announcing more events in the coming days, including an event for parents—presented by Walmart—highlighting the impact of manufacturers during the pandemic and featuring an interview by legendary broadcaster Elvis Duran.

The strategy: “MFG Day has always been a grassroots movement led by innovative manufacturers. In the face of this year’s challenges, we’re responding by creating opportunities to reach more students, parents and educators,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “We are really excited about our opportunity to extend MFG Day with digital programming into more homes and communities, including underrepresented communities, and improve the perception of modern manufacturing careers more broadly.”

Press Releases

Manufacturers Put Forward Bold Actions to Close Opportunity Gap and Transform Industry Workforce

Task Force of Industry Leaders Identify and Offer Next Steps

Washington, D.C. – Following the industry’s June “Pledge for Action,” the National Association of Manufacturers brought industry leaders together to focus on recommending bold next steps manufacturers can take to increase equity and parity for underrepresented communities in America.

The Task Force on Closing the Opportunity Gap has put forth actions that will transform the industry workforce: By 2025, manufacturers commit to taking 50,000 tangible actions to increase equity and parity for underrepresented communities, creating 300,000 pathways to job opportunities for Black people and all people of color. In doing so, manufacturing will reflect the diversity of the overall U.S. workforce by 2030.

The Manufacturing Institute, the NAM’s workforce development and education partner, will collect individual commitments from companies to ensure that the goal of 50,000 actions is met by 2025 and that the industry reaches its diversity goals by 2030. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons affirmed the commitment on behalf of the industry.

Timmons, Trane Technologies Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair Mike Lamach and Manufacturing Institute Executive Director Carolyn Lee made the following statements on this landmark initiative.

“Our industry plays an integral role in lifting up people and communities,” said Lamach, “and now we have a special obligation to stand with and support all people who face injustice. We must play a part in tearing down the persistent and pernicious structural barriers to opportunity in this country.”

“I am proud to make this commitment on behalf of the industry and thank Mike and the task force for their leadership. As manufacturers across America redouble our efforts to build more inclusive and equitable workplaces and communities, we will be the catalyst for even greater change,” said Timmons. “We can spark a chain reaction for equity—that makes our businesses more successful, our communities stronger and our nation one that truly guarantees ‘liberty and justice for all.’”

“Not only are manufacturers making a bold promise, but they are also committing to be held accountable,” said Lee. “The Manufacturing Institute will collect individual commitments from companies, support their efforts with key resources and track the industry’s progress in creating these opportunities and pathways over the coming years to ensure we reach our 2030 target.”

Background on the Task Force: On June 11, the NAM’s Executive Committee unanimously approved the 11-point “Pledge for Action to advance justice, equality and opportunity for Black people and all people of color. The Task Force on Closing the Opportunity Gap’s commitment, announced today, follows through on elements of the “Pledge for Action.”

Members of the task force include the following:

  • Task Force Chair: Mike Lamach, chairman and CEO, Trane Technologies and NAM Board chair
  • Dev Ahuja, SVP and CFO, Novelis Inc.
  • Alejandro Alvarez, SVP, chief production officer and sustainability officer, Brown-Forman Corporation
  • Neil Chapman, senior vice president, Exxon Mobil Corporation
  • Julie Copeland, CEO, Arbill
  • Mark Cordova, president, Centennial Bolt, Inc.
  • Chris Edwards, Co-CEO, Edward Marc Brands, Inc.
  • Jim Fitterling, chairman and CEO, Dow Inc. and NAM Board vice chair
  • Vicki Holt, president and CEO, Protolabs and NAM Small and Medium Manufacturers Group vice chair
  • Frederick Humphries, corporate VP, U.S. government affairs, Microsoft Corporation
  • Vimal Kapur, president and CEO, Honeywell Building Technologies
  • Lawrence Kurzius, chairman, president and CEO, McCormick & Company, Inc.
  • Mike McDermott, president, Pfizer global supply, Pfizer, Inc.
  • Aneesa Muthana, president and CEO, Pioneer Service Inc.
  • Chris Nielsen, EVP – product support and chief quality officer, Toyota Motor North America
  • Quentin Roach, SVP – global supply chain and chief procurement officer, Mondelez International
  • Kathy Wengel, EVP, chief global supply chain officer, Johnson & Johnson
  • Chris Womack, president, external affairs, Southern Company

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.1 million men and women, contributes $2.36 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and has the largest economic multiplier of any major sector and accounts for 63% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org

News

“The Opportunities May Surprise You”

A STEP Ahead honoree interview

As a kid, Amanda Wade Hodges designed intricate items with her dad for her school’s Machine Day and created complicated Halloween costumes. Today, she credits those early childhood experiences with setting her on the path toward a creative manufacturing career.

Hodges is a process engineer at BASF Corporation’s site in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and has been selected as one of The Manufacturing Institute’s 2020 STEP Ahead Emerging Leaders. Emerging Leaders represent the future of the industry and have demonstrated exceptional accomplishments at the beginning of their careers.

What she’s doing: At BASF, Hodges uses a Lean Six Sigma program to cut waste and deploy funding effectively, while also serving as a leader in the company’s environmental impact, health and safety initiatives. These skills enabled her to support the company’s COVID-19 response efforts.

  • Since March, Hodges has helped BASF make changes to its operations and facilities, which included the implementation of precautionary measures like health screenings and mandatory mask wearing. To reduce the risk of exposure, BASF employees are asked to practice the same safety precautions at home and in the community as they do at BASF facilities.
  • In early July, BASF launched its internal “Pledge to Protect” campaign to encourage employees to share why they wear face coverings, practice social distancing and clean and disinfect. “Our priority remains the health and safety of our employees, contractors and communities,” says Hodges.

A manufacturing advocate: Hodges is committed to helping kids get the same early exposure to STEM and manufacturing that she did.

  • She participates in local STEM Days in the Chattanooga community, where she encourages kids to pursue careers in industries like manufacturing.
  • She also works with BASF’s Kids’ Lab at a local elementary school during National Chemistry Week.
  • And last, she volunteers at her alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, in order to connect with young people who are interested in the field. “Every day comes with new challenges and opens doors to be innovative,” she says.

A word of advice: “My advice to young women considering manufacturing is to just give it a try,” says Hodges. “Jobs in manufacturing are very diverse in the requirements and skills needed. Manufacturing utilizes a variety of skillsets, from conceiving an idea to completing the product to shipping it to the customer. I would encourage women to investigate the different opportunities, because they may surprise you.”

The 2020 STEP Ahead Awards will be held virtually on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020, 6:00–7:00 p.m. EDT. To register to watch, please click here.

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