The Partnership’s Manufacturers Council had its third meeting of the season late last month as member manufacturers gathered to discuss private sector best practices in several areas of workforce development – recruitment, advancement, and apprenticeships. The main feature of the meeting was a panel discussion with three Council members, offering accounts of successful practices at their companies:
- Liz Miller, Market Account Manager, Sealing Devices
- Joe Tomlinson, Joint Apprentice Coordinator, Ford Motor Company
- Joe Dunlop, Vice President, Switzer
Each company offered unique stories about successes and lessons learned from their experiences. There were several key themes that emerged:
- Take your time hiring – At Switzer, the hiring period can last several months. The process starts by clearly defining the company’s core values. From there, each candidate is interviewed not only by the company, but also a third party professional who performs a rigorous personality assessment to ensure the potential employee is a fit. We’ve seen how expensive it can be when new hires don’t work out, so it is important to be sure the potential employee fits not only what you do, but who you are.
- Create pathways for growth – Sealing Devices uses a team leader model for their operations. This allows employees who demonstrate leadership skills and growth potential to take on more responsibility before moving to a full manager role. In this model, leaders identify themselves, and there are clear pathways for growth at the company.
- Apprenticeship resources – Ford is a huge supporter of the apprenticeship model, but at many smaller companies, there is confusion about where to start with building an apprenticeship program. There are educational resources like ECC and the United Way that manufacturers can take advantage of. The New York State Department of Labor also has apprenticeship program and curriculum resources available to provide assistance.
This panel was a way for Council members to share best practices and ask questions about programs that are providing results for their companies. Our next meeting is scheduled for July, where we will discuss growing the pipeline of future manufacturing workers.
For those interested in joining, the Manufacturers Council is a group of volunteer manufacturer members of the Partnership who meet regularly to network, share ideas, and address common challenges. The Council hosts several meetings, tours, events, and activities throughout the year. If interested, please contact Brian Jablonski or Barrett Erbe for more information.