A Skills-Based Jobs Approach to Fulfilling Workforce Needs

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Businesses are collaborating with academic and other partners to advocate for modern manufacturing jobs.

Finding young workers with a strong interest in manufacturing has become a perpetual challenge, says Jay Schmidt, executive vice president and general manager of Silicon Forest Electronics, an electronic services manufacturing company based in Vancouver, Washington. Many young people simply don’t believe financially rewarding and professionally fulfilling skilled manufacturing jobs exist in the United States, he notes. In response, Schmidt and his company devote time and resources to a number of outreach efforts to counter this narrative. Sometimes, that work provides striking dividends.

For instance, Schmidt points to the case of one of the company’s standout young employees. Silicon Forest Electronics first learned of the individual through a locally based industry ally, Partners in Careers, which helps provide resources, training, and job placement opportunities to job-seekers. The individual was a recent high school graduate with no designs on attending college.

Partners in Careers volunteered to pay the young man’s wages at Silicon Forest Electronics for 90 days with the aim of giving him industry exposure. Silicon Forest Electronics provided him with a range of work experiences, and he proved to be an unusually quick study, demonstrating — among other skills — that he could excel at military-grade soldering under a microscope. After his 90-day stint, the company offered him a full-time job and he took it. Since that time, the young worker has been trained to be one of the company’s machine technicians and is handling programming on a sophisticated piece of selective soldering equipment.

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Concern for Community

This is one of the seven principles that guide the electric cooperatives. One way we accomplish this is through programs designed for youth of various ages. From electrical safety programs to the annual Youth Tour to Washington, we are committed to the youth of Arkansas.