GRAND HAVEN — Automotive supplier Shape Corp. will invest $315,000 to create an advanced manufacturing education program at Grand Haven High School.
In a bid to grow its talent pipeline in an era of perpetual talent constraints, the Grand Haven-based Tier I manufacturer of bumper systems and body structures has partnered with SME or Society of Manufacturing Engineers. The Dearborn-based organization offers education programs and advocacy for the advanced manufacturing industry.
“Launching the program in Grand Haven allows us to provide high quality education for both college and non-college bound students in the area and fits with our vision of growing non-technical talent,” Doug Peterson, vice president of global human resources at Shape Corp., wrote in an email to MiBiz.
Shape Corp. will work with SME through its PRIME (Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education) program, which develops specific curricula to fit the needs of manufacturers.
Shape Corp. continues to work with Grand Haven High School on the details of the partnership. However, SME has the capability to establish programs in pre-engineering, CNC machining, robotics, welding and metrology, said Brian Glowiak, vice president of the SME Education Foundation.
Program administrators also purchase training equipment for the students, train faculty and support other administrative tasks. Roughly half of Shape Corp.’s investment will go to buy equipment.
SME currently hosts similar programs with 45 high schools across 23 states and plans to finalize additional programs in the coming months.
For Glowiak, the success of the PRIME program comes down to solving manufacturers’ workforce needs and the collaborative model that SME offers.
“There are studies that have shown — and it’s particularly impactful in Michigan — that there is a skills gap crisis in manufacturing that’s growing in terms of manufacturers being able to find the skilled talent after the baby boomer generation retires,” he said. “It’s accelerating on a national level and it’s estimated that in the next decade, about 2 million jobs are going to go unfilled just because the qualified candidates won’t exist.
“PRIME is built on collaboration. So it’s a partnership between school districts, between manufacturers, and then ourselves where we serve as the translator in terms of working with manufacturers, identifying what the skill set needs are today and into the future, and then translating those needs with the school districts.”
For students, the program also offers an alternative to a traditional path into higher education following graduation. And if graduates do ultimately decide to enroll in a university, the program can give them a leg up in STEM-related fields, Glowiak said.
“We have so many high school students who are graduating with skills that they’re really not aligned with the workforce of the 21st century,” he said. “That’s in essence what PRIME is doing when it relates to manufacturing — giving those students those careers, training and credentials so they can really excel in a career in manufacturing.”