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A Workforce for America’s Small Manufacturers

Through a national network of 51 centers in 50 states and Puerto Rico, the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program works with small and medium-sized manufacturers to develop new products and customers, expand and diversify markets, adopt new technologies, enhance value within supply chains, as well as build the workforce needed to meet all these goals.  MEP Centers recognize the value of work-based learning, especially apprenticeships, to training existing and new employees.  MEP Centers connect manufacturers to the local and state resources that can provide apprenticeship programming.  Many are core partners and intermediaries to help small groups of companies implement new and customized registered apprenticeships.

  • Maryland MEP has developed a framework to help companies develop their own customized manufacturing apprenticeships.  It has created and registered with Maryland Department of Labor apprenticeship programs for CNC Machinists and Additive Manufacturing Technicians.
  • MassMEP has generated a statewide manufacturing career pathway through the Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative (MACWIC), which includes a registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship program that leads to a statewide competency-based credential.
  • Catalyst Connection, a Pennsylvania MEP affiliate in Pittsburgh, has created an apprenticeship guide book for companies and registered an Industrial Manufacturing Technician program, its first apprenticeship as a sponsor agency.
  • The Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC—Michigan MEP) is an intermediary together with the Jackson Area Manufacturing Association (JAMA) and the Academy for Manufacturing Careers (AMC) for a customized training program designed by manufacturers to meet the needs of manufacturers across south-central Michigan. AMC offers apprenticeships, certificates, and customized training for local manufacturers. The MMTC’s role is to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers understand how apprenticeships can help them meet their workforce needs and connect them towith the AMC to create customized training programs.  In addition, MMTC works extensively with the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow Institute (LIFT) on workforce development programs to engage young adults in STEM fields and has placed three graduates from the LIFT “Hire Vets Program” in Michigan-area manufacturing positions.
  • MAGNET, a MEP affiliate in northeast Ohio, initiated a State of Ohio approved pre-apprenticeship program, Early College Early Career (ECEC), that engages local high school students in a paid two-year internship with a local manufacturer.  The experience provides students the opportunity to receive hands-on training while making money to pay for college.  Participating students earn college credit and technical certifications that can create career awareness and pathways into precision manufacturing that begins with high school internships, moving then to apprenticeships that continue to an associate degree and/or DOL journeyman status.  In fall 2018, this multi-partner program will have 98 students enrolled, 7 high school partners, 10 manufacturing partners, and 2 community college partners.  Students come mostly from urban, low-income city schools without career technology programs.

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