The Need for Qualified Candidates in Manufacturing

There is a lot of noise about the need for employees in manufacturing. Unfortunately, noise does not result in much action. Employers need to come to the table.

Decades ago I was a engineering graduate of General Motors Institute--we started at 18, 5 year program, 12 months a year, 100% co-op---4 weeks in a plant, 4 weeks in school, and a research project on a plant problem with thesis to get the bachelor's degree. Tuition was low, wages were paid during the work sessions. Initially we worked hourly jobs and later diverse jobs that resulted in workplace readiness.

In 1983, following two more degrees and a stint as a professor, I was back at GMI as a member of the President's staff. That year, the GM subsidy to GMI was $16,000,000/year. The GM Chairman elected to "spin off" GMI, save the money, and recruit from a broad range of Universities. That year, the savings to the corporation based on the student 5th year research projects was $42,000,000. And that did not include the value of faculty instruction and consulting in GM units. Bottom line--a large company can afford to have its own accredited engineering school and make money on it. The school is now Kettering University--tuition is much higher that in the old days, but the coop model is still in place and over 500 employers have participated. The current Chair of GM is a graduate.

Rod Boyes