One of the challenges you hear from executives in almost any manufacturing sector is how difficult it is to identify, recruit, hire and retain a qualified workforce.
That is a particular need for U.S. Department of Defense manufacturers, especially those that develop aerial combat or reconnaissance equipment. In their case, these companies face massive attrition of skilled workers due to retirement and the lack a local sourcing for developing a skilled workforce to meet business priorities.
Thanks to a $5 million, three-year grant announced yesterday, The Composites Institutes, officially known as the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), is launching an initiative to address the need. The official title of the new effort is the Manufacturing Education Extension Program (MEEP)
The Knoxville-based IACMI is partnering with Davis Technical College of Kaysville, UT to build out the latter’s composites manufacturing technology program to four locations across the country. The partnership also includes organizations that will leverage resources and expertise to build out the learning network. These partners include the following:
- Enterprise Community College in Enterprise, AL and the Composites Prototyping Center in Long Island, NY, which will be home to learning centers;
- Purdue University, Vanderbilt University, University of Dayton Research Institute, and University of Tennessee, which will serve to implement the curriculum;
- The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA), which will provide education alignment and certification support;
- Composites One, which will collaborate to develop and deliver workshops with IACMI to support the continuous learning requirements for instructors; and
- The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) Apprenticeship Works program, which will assist employers with establishing Department of Labor certified apprenticeship programs.
The national program will be led by Joannie Harmon Heath, IACMI’s Workforce Director, and Wes Hobbs, Davis Technical College’s National Director for Composites Pathways. The two have proven success graduating hundreds of highly-qualified students and trainees from a variety of programs.
“We look forward to utilizing the network that we have created over the past five years through IACMI to build out the national training program,” Heath said in a news release announcing the award. “Davis Technical College’s leadership in this education space is incredibly valuable, and it will be a great resource to the U.S. to have this program available to more manufacturers and participants.”