The Manufacturing Skills Challenge & Goodwin College

Yesterday, I represented Horst Engineering at a Manufacturing Leaders Breakfast at Goodwin College in East Hartford, Connecticut. It’s so great to call Goodwin a neighbor in this community. Every time I visit, some new construction project is underway. The place just oozes growth. The vision of Goodwin’s President, Mark Scheinberg, is inspirational. He is combining his natural entrepreneurial instincts with his businessman acumen and his acquired knowledge of the education field. Even better, he surrounds himself with bright people who “get” his strategy. It’s fantastic.

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I’ve written about the manufacturing skills challenge many times. Connecticut and the rest of New England have hemorrhaged manufacturing jobs for decades. The entire country has suffered this fate, but since the bottom of the recession, there has been a rebound, particularly in the high technology manufacturing sector. Connecticut remains a loser because while other states (e.g. Michigan, Ohio, Indiana) have had sharp rebounds, we have continued to lose jobs to lower cost regions of the country (e.g. the southeast) and to other parts of the world. Our legislators are blind to the fact that our policies are preventing us from capitalizing on one of our greatest strengths. We already have a high technology manufacturing sector anchored by our aerospace industry expertise and built-in cluster. The sector is dominated by small and mid-sized businesses, which are the engines of our economy. Little is being done to secure that base. An opportunity is being squandered.

What a shame! This problem is so old, it’s growing mold. Manufacturing leaders have been screaming about a skills shortage forever. We are all anticipating the exodus of thousands of skilled workers to retirement in the next 10 years. The base of labor built on the baby boom is going to go bust and little has been done to train the next generation of manufacturing workers. Kids just aren’t exposed to manufacturing. I grew up around a machine shop, but I still was exposed to the “industrial arts” as early as 6th grade. The middle school and high school in our town had a wood shop. We had a metal shop. They taught drafting. We made stuff.

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Dr. Clifford Thermer, Goodwin’s Assistant VP of Strategy and Development, reminded us that what children see on television, “Lawyers, doctors, and cops,” is what they think a good job is. The media have glorified these careers while marginalizing manufacturing jobs to the fringe. You have to seek out cool shows about manufacturing technology, and sadly, most focus on the products, and not the people. Well, you can’t make stuff, especially high quality stuff, without human input.

So, enter Goodwin College. I’ve spoken and written about the failed attempts to turn the tide. So many government, quasi-government, and non-profit organizations have tried to solve the skills problem. They have tried to organize the private sector, marshal resources, and navigate the bureaucracy. But, it hasn’t worked. It doesn’t mean that they haven’t made progress. They just haven’t produced results in any volume. Those of us running manufacturing businesses are so busy trying to survive in a high cost environment, we can only devote a fraction of our time to the workforce development issue. It’s a huge problem. So, now Goodwin has entered the fray. That’s a good thing.

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The Goodwin team have already shaken up other sectors. They are cranking out nurses. They are re-training folks. They are teaching business in a unique way. They are succeeding in other areas too. They are even building magnet high schools in attempt to secure their own pipeline of students to matriculate into their higher education programs. Goodwin is not one of those $60,000/year private schools with dorms that rival Manhattan lofts and dining services that are Zagat rated. The school is a practical place to get an education, often while you are working. They teach skills. The student demographic is different, but it is what we need in a world of overpriced higher education.

Bravo to Goodwin for taking on the manufacturing skills challenge. The launch is based around the concept of accreditation. I almost passed out when they said they were going to introduce the “European style” of apprenticeship/journeyman programs. Still popular in the construction trades, that model died in Connecticut in the early 1980’s. It WAS as American model for decades. That is how my uncle Steven learned. That is how several of our longtime key associates learned. When the U.S. gave up on manufacturing, so did the education world. Everyone is supposed to go to college…and do what?! When we get 600 applications for a low paying clerical office job opening and no applications for a high paying skilled machinist job opening, what does that say about the qualifications of the workforce? What does it say about the stigma attached to manufacturing?

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Even the state of Sonora, Mexico gets it. Horst Engineering operates a maquiladora in Guaymas. Sonora. They covet high-tech manufacturing jobs, particularly in the aerospace and medical industries. They have trade schools with technician certification and they expose kids to manufacturing at a young age. The manufacturing resurgence is a huge part of Mexico’s comeback. Yet, while we have grown in Mexico, we have also grown in Connecticut, but it has been painfully hard to do it without a pipeline of trained workers. Horst’s workforce is multi-cultural, which is a good thing. Our founder, was a German immigrant. He understood the European system. You earned your place at the skills table. You just didn’t arrive there and command the pay and respect. You climbed the skills ladder.

Goodwin has developed a strategy. They plan to train manufacturing managers. They plan to offer mentor/mentee training because the private sector is full of incumbent workers without formal educator skills. They will offer web-based training and simulation. They will develop partnerships with the same government, quasi-government, and non-profit organizations that I mentioned. More importantly, they will develop partnerships with the private sector. That is why I crossed town to participate in the kickoff session. It may have been postponed twice because of our crazy snow-filled winter, but that doesn’t matter, I’m rooting for them to make this work.

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Some past posts on the topic of manufacturing skills and workforce development:


2 Responses to “The Manufacturing Skills Challenge & Goodwin College”

  1. 1 axzz3AlU7y3PY Trackback on 20 August 2014 at 9:41 pm
  2. 2 axzz3AliYoinY Trackback on 21 August 2014 at 4:15 pm

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Horst Engineering

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So that little injury caused by my @renocxnats crash on Saturday afternoon wasn’t so little after all. It’s a broken leg (fibula). Prognosis is good, but it hurts like heck. My blog post report with blow by blow details is linked in my profile. #cxnats #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #crossisboss - - -

This #lifedeathcyclocross stuff is true!!!! I crashed out of the Singlespeed Championship @renocxnats (on the dreaded off-camber) but not before having more fun. @artroti43 raced on the frosty course ❄️ at day break. 🚴🏽 We met a lot more @horsteng #crossspikes customers. I hung with little bunny hopper 🐰 Miles, the Junior 11-12 year old Silver Medalist.🥈I cheered for Nic, who represented @the_ccap in the Junior 15-16 age group. @sportstert and Iva came down from Tahoe to cheer LOUDLY for me. 🎺 I got my badly sprained ankle taped and iced. I had a beer. 🍺 I’m even looking forward to my red eye flight home ✈️ . Best of all, I’ll see @trailrunningmom and the kids on Sunday. I can’t explain the sensation, but despite the pain, I’m ready for next #Cyclocross season to begin... after some rest. #teamhorstsports #cxnats #horstengineering @parkavebikeshop #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross #crossiscoming You could say that at least for this week, I’m married to my #bicycle - - -

@renocxnats #cxnats @seven_cycles #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #horstengineering #crossspikes @horsteng #chapelofthebells #Cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross Good day representing @horsteng at @renocxnats in the 45-49 age group. It’s a great course. The wind was blowing hard, but the sun finally came out. I’m happy with 37th place but should have made a move to get to 29th, which was 30 seconds ahead. That’s a long way when you are going flat out and cramping. 4,500 foot elevation was a factor. I’m disappointed that they cut one lap of my race when I wasn’t close to getting lapped by the leaders. You train this hard and come all this way; and you want to get the most racing for the $ and time invested. They only let 25 riders do the full six laps. The only positive to come out of that was that I watched fellow New Englander @adammyerson execute a perfect final sprint to win the Stars and Stripes again. Teammate @artroti43 had a good ride too. 
@seven_cycles #sevencycles #horstengineering #teamhorstsports @bicycleseastct #crossspikes #cxnats #renocxnats #Cyclocross #crossisboss @therichardsachs didn’t have the race he hoped for but it was still great to see him @renocxnats and “pit” for him. He said he officially started his second off season, but first of 2018. @artroti43 and I played soigneur/mechanic for 90 minutes, but minus the massage! atmo #renocxnats #richardsachs #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #hauteframebuilding #Cyclocross #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross I previously hadn’t published this image, but it recently received an Honorable Mention in the 2017 @appalachianmountainclub Photo Contest for the People Outdoors category. Check out my blog (link in profile) for the interesting story of his photo (shot with this iPhone 6s), a trip report from this amazing Maine adventure, and past contest history. I love this image of two of my favorite women. I’m barred from submitting images to the 2018 contest, but I’ll be back in 2019. #appalachianmountainclub #baxterstatepark #katahdin Congratulations to Master Park, the Park Family, and the entire team at Park’s U.S. #Taekwondo at the Grand Opening of the new facility in the former VFW building. Our kids love it! So much better than being next door to the pawn shop and liquor store.😊#tkd 🇺🇸🇰🇷 This morning, the @trinitycollege Main Quad was bathed in beautiful sunshine ☀️but it was frigid and the wind was blowing! ❄️ The chapel was packed with an overflow crowd to celebrate the (shortened) life of a lovely friend. She will be missed. #circleoflife 🌏 #Repost @horsteng
We just launched the #cxnats edition of #crossspikes News and it is chock full of great information. Click our profile for a link to the newsletter and info regarding @renocxnats pre-orders and on-site sales. See you at the Race Expo! #crossisboss 🚴🏽🏆

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