A Major Priority of the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative

The two highest priorities of the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative (AMC) are promoting manufacturing career opportunities and improving the ability of workforce and educational organizations to meet employer needs. 

Manufacturers have two compelling workforce and education challenges: 1) to improve the skills of existing workers to adopt new innovations and improve efficiency; and 2) to train new workers to meet growth demands and replace retiring workers.

According to Barry Bluestone’s 2012 report, Staying Power, there will be up to 100,000 job openings in manufacturing over the next 10 years in Massachusetts.  Professor Bluestone also reported that innovation by manufacturing companies is strongly connected to company expansion and job growth.  Over 85 percent of the most innovative companies that Professor Bluestone surveyed anticipate increasing both production and employment over the next five years.  A key to manufacturing innovation is improving the skill level of new and existing workers.

The Commonwealth's Three Part Strategy to Address Manufacturers' Workforce and Education Needs

The Administration, through the AMC and collaboration between EOHED, EOE and EOLWD, is implementing a three part strategy to immediately address the education and innovation needs of the state’s manufacturers. 

First, the state is aggressively supporting regional partnerships between local manufacturers and the workforce and educational providers in their regions.  The most successful regional partnership to-date is the Precision Manufacturing Regional Alliance Project (PMRAP) in Hampden County, which has received substantial support from Commonwealth Corporation and MTC. 

The second major part of the AMC’s strategy is to provide streamlined access to state resources to meet the immediate training and education opportunities.  In the current fiscal year, EOHED has provided support for the training of new workers hired by local companies in Hampden County through the Precision Manufacturing Training Program.  That program, supported by a $750,000 grant in the FY 2013 budget, has already trained 89 workers including 31 veterans and 44 residents of the region’s Gateway Cities.  Next year’s budget proposes $2 million to extend immediate assistance to region’s throughout the state with similar training needs to Hampden County.

The third major part of the AMC’s strategy to address the education and innovation needs of the state’s manufacturers is the Massachusetts Advanced Manufacturing Regional Partnership Academy (AMRPA), a collaborative effort of the AMC, EOHED, EOE and EOLWD.  The Academy was announced by the Governor at the Advanced Manufacturing Summit on June 20, 2013. This Academy is an effort aimed at accelerating the adoption of best practices, capacity building and industry engagement in regions throughout the state.  The AMRPA is a first-in-the-nation effort to improve the effectiveness of regional manufacturing sector strategies by providing hands-on education, tools and peer-learning to regional leaders.  The Academy will bring together manufacturers, workforce investment boards and academia to help regions develop sustainable and effective partnerships that respond to industry needs. This Academy will collect and share best practices locally and nationally that can serve as models for education, training, and workforce development efforts in support of advanced manufacturing. Additionally, the Academy will develop a comprehensive approach to measuring and tracking the progress made towards meeting the needs of advanced manufacturers, particularly regarding workforce, at the state and regional level.  The Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative is partnering with Commonwealth Corporation to implement the Academy, which is funded by MassDevelopment through the Advanced Manufacturing Futures Fund.  The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth is leading a multi-campus team of experts to support the Academy.

Key Outcomes of the Advanced Manufacturing Regional Partnership Academy

The overarching objective of the AMRPA is to create a peer-learning environment for regional partnerships of manufacturers, education and training providers, and workforce development organizations.  UMass will create and deliver four major components of the Academy via face-to-face interactive “courses” with the regional networks, and also through virtual online tools, such as YouTube videos of interviews, course PowerPoint presentations, and e-newsletters.  The four deliverables of the Academy are as follows:

  1. Document best practices locally and nationally that can serve as models for education, training, and workforce development efforts in support of advanced manufacturing. These can include sharing sample memoranda of understanding (MOUs), space sharing guidelines between academic institutions and workforce training organizations, training plans, and other practical information.
  2. Develop “regional manufacturing profiles” for each of the regions covered by existing and emerging advanced manufacturing partnerships.  These profiles, to be shared with each region, will include data for manufacturing including, but not limited to, where manufacturer employers are located and what type of manufacturing and sector(s) they represent.  This will allow for more effective outreach to understand and meet the needs of the local manufacturing community in each region.
  3. Develop and implement a series of regional “needs assessment” surveys of advanced manufacturing employers. Informed by the regional manufacturing profiles described above, these regional surveys will be explicitly designed to document current staffing needs, occupational skills requirements, variations by sector, long-term challenges and knowledge and utilization of existing state and regional training resources. In addition, this will include a capacity assessment of the training programs offered and corresponding capacity in each region.
  4. Design a method to track progress and outcomes at the state and regional level that complements existing grant programs.  This will assist state and regional stakeholders in tracking the progress made towards meeting the needs of advanced manufacturers, with special attention to their workforce needs. (i.e. Is the region producing enough workers with the right skills to meet employer needs?)

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