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Moore About Business: Growth and Workforce Development from the Southwest Regional Manufacturers Association

When Rob Harris was named executive director of the Southwest Regional Manufacturers Association fourteen months ago, his immediate goals were to improve the productivity and technological performance of the manufacturing sector in Southwest Florida, and to develop a better pipeline from the local school system to the manufacturing sector workforce.

Harris shared with me, “There tends to be a lot of focus on developing manufacturing-related college degrees — but what about the people we need working on the factory floor? Those careers need to be nurtured as well.”

He continued, “We recently formed a Workforce Development Committee, focused on getting grade-school students excited about a career in manufacturing. The committee members want all types of students to be considered successful, whether they go to a 4-year university, technical college, or enter the workforce immediately after high school.”

The SRMA and its members are pursuing two avenues to this end: First, the SRMA is encouraging schools to implement more robotics and automation programs down to the 6th grade level.

He shared, “Imagine a student completing a fluid curriculum from 6th through 12th grade. What manufacturer wouldn’t want to hire that student right out of high school with 7 years of training?"

Secondly, the SRMA also continues to promote its Adopt-A-School program which finds ways to connect manufacturers with teachers and students. Examples include student tours, especially now since October is National Manufacturing Month, work-based learning programs, career counseling, etc.

Visit srma.net to learn more.

Publisher of SWFL Business Today