Many middle school students in the United States decide, during middle school, that they don't want a career in manufacturing. Yes, they decide that early (as many studies show.) Then, years later companies who manufacture products in the US (yes, there are many) have trouble finding qualified college graduates because career choices made in middle school impact a student for the rest of his or her life. (This phenomenon is greatly impacting the fields of science, engineering and technology as well.)
Getting back to manufacturing, as I say in Gadgets, Games and Gizmos for Learning:
Many manufacturing companies have eliminated their apprenticeship programs. Trade and vocation schools are mistakenly viewed as places to send troubled students. There have been well publicized layoffs and plant closures. The signals all are leading members of the gamer/net generation to fear that manufacturing jobs are dead ends. The manufacturing industry will not be able to transfer knowledge to new employees if new employees don’t enter into the field. In fact, many “old economy” jobs are not seen as desirable by the younger generation and the recruitment of these folks is going to be a hot issue in those fields.This is a problem for an entire industry
To help address this problem, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers-Education Foundation has created a web site geared specifically toward middle school students to teach them about careers in manufacturing as they related the engineering with examples from Nike, Caterpillar and many others. The site is designed to change the image of manufacturing in the minds of the middle school sudents from an "old economy" career choice to something that is cool (which it is).
Thus the name "Manufacturing is cool." The site has some great interactivity and ideas that you might consider incorporating into any training you are creating to change attitudes toward safety or compliance issues or toward a new program or any training where attitude change is a goal.
Is any of your training geared toward changing attitudes? What are you doing specifically to recruit young people into your organization? Are you thinking about your industry and whether or not it is attractive to middle school students? Can some of the same ideas in this web site be used in your development of online learning events?
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