Next-Generation Workforce

We’ve all read or heard the concerns about the shortage of qualified applicants in the domestic manufacturing job market. This topic seems to hit closer to home each time one of our tool makers, machine operators, or set-up personnel celebrates a milestone company anniversary; which we define as twenty-five or more years. We’re happy to acknowledge the success and experience of these dedicated individuals. However, these anniversaries also tend to highlight an indisputable fact … a significant percentage of our workforce is getting older, and we need to take responsibility for cultivating the next generation of skilled craftsmen and women to take their place.

At several of the Elgin Fastener Group divisions, we’re accepting that responsibility. Since 2012, our Ohio Rod Products operation has been working in tandem with the Precision Machining program at the Southeastern Career Center in Versailles, Indiana, to identify high school juniors and seniors who exhibit the skills and attitude to succeed in a cold heading environment.

We’ve hosted Career Days that include plant tours and classroom instruction for the participants of this program. We’ve hired two of these candidates to date – one from each of the last two graduating classes. Ohio Rod has also conducted summer intern programs for local college and high school students over the past several years, with an emphasis on engineering opportunities.

Our Northern Wire division in Merrill, Wisconsin, has explored the establishment of training classes for new employees in conjunction with Northcentral Technical College in Wausau, Wisconsin, and is exploring the viability of an intern program for high school students in Lincoln and Marathon counties. The management at our Leland Powell Fasteners division in Martin, Tennessee, hosts plant tours each semester for Mechanical Engineering students from UT-Martin, and works closely with the Machine Maintenance program at McKenzie Vocational School in McKenzie, Tennessee, to identify and develop potential manufacturing candidates for the Leland Powell operation.

What steps are you taking to cultivate the next generation of your workforce? We welcome your feedback on how you are approaching this subject.