Finding the New Workers
Bart Aslin The SME Education Foundation believes that career development begins at an early age. There are a myriad of factors that influence children as they grow into adulthood, but education is universally recognized to be a major factor that can open doors to future success in the workforce. With nearly 75 million baby boomers set for retirement, now, more than ever, technically skilled workers are in high demand.
SME-EF is working hard to address these critical needs through its Web sites, youth programs, and scholarships. Since its inception in 1979, SMEEF has awarded more than $25 million to colleges, universities, K-12 school districts, students, and educators throughout North America. The grants are made as part of a comprehensive plan to inspire, support, and prepare students for rewarding careers in manufacturing.
In 2006, the Foundation joined with Project Lead The Way to launch Gateway Academy, a one-week hands-on learning experience that is designed to introduce middle school students to the fundamentals of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Following the hands-on experience, students are then placed into the PLTW coursework at the middle school and high school level. In 2008, 179 camps in 26 states introduced over 4400 students to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). According to a 2005 Skills Gap Report, more than 80% of US manufacturers report an overall shortage of qualified employees. This can be changed by educating young people in STEM, providing them with information about the manufacturing world, and allowing them to experience beneficial opportunities, such as these summer camps.