For years, the machining courses and curriculum in high schools have been the same. Keith McKee, director of the manufacturing programs at Illinois Institute of Technology, estimates that it may have been 75 or 100 years since a new and up-to-date curriculum or a new educational delivery system was approved and instituted at the high school level. Community college programs are more updated, but not by much.
The Manufacturing Productivity Center at the Illinois Institute of Technology is working to develop new instructional models and curriculum for the four industrial clusters (manufacturing; information technology; construction; and transportation, distribution and logistics).
In the meantime, the importance of having students visit the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) is to show students that there are no longer unskilled jobs the industrial clusters. The industry demands highly skilled technicians. Knowledge of other jobs and functions is important for constant improvement. Most jobs require post-secondary training and education.
It is also important to show school administrators and career counselors that industrial jobs are not for the lower rung of the education ladder. All require highly skilled workers if there is to be continued economic development and expansion.
IMTS invites parents to join students over the weekend to show how much skill training is needed to hold a position in manufacturing or industry. No longer is the muscle-bound worker in a blue shirt the symbol of manufacturing. It’s the worker with multiple skills who is cross-trained, can work a computer and calculator, can be part of a team, and can quickly think out a solution to a problem.
When you operate a machine that makes 350 parts per minute, a few minutes to make a decision or find out why the machine stopped can cost the company the profits for the day. Each worker is now responsible for constant improvement and achieving a “no waste/no rejection” performance. Workers must have the training and education to be a contributing member of the company if they intend to advance in pay scale and position.
If high school students in your area did not attend IMTS 2002, it is not too early to plan for 2004. Call the IMTS office or go to the IMTS Web site and obtain Student Summit materials. Take the materials to your local school and ask them to start planning now.
Investigate the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council and encourage schools to adopt the standards. It is a benefit for the student, the school and your company.
To compete with offshore firms, we must help foster in our schools the excellence in education and skill training that will lead to more highly skilled workers.