Pathways to Production Collaborative

Local collaborative utilizes TPM process to build talent pool of technicians

The Partnership’s Manufacturing Council held its first meeting of 2020 with a presentation on Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) a nationwide movement designed to address the talent challenges employers of every kind face.

As an early adopter of the movement, the Partnership and its Manufacturing Council joined forces with several area companies to form Pathways to Production, an employer collaborative based on the TPM approach to help build a sustainable talent pool for varied positions in manufacturing that share similar competencies.

Scott Pallotta, CEO of Zehnder-Rittling in South Buffalo, a manufacturer of commercial HVAC equipment, and Katya Kroll-Haeick, Director of Youth Programming at The Service Collaborative of WNY, joined the Manufacturing Council meeting to talk about their work with the Pathways to Production Collaborative.

Launched in 2019, Pathways to Production has evolved into a textbook TPM process. The program was started by four employers in the local manufacturing sector – PCB Piezotronics, Rigidized Metals, Tapecon and Zehnder Rittling. These companies shared a critical pain point – they were unable to find talent with “hands-on” experience, leading to unproductive workers and high turnover.

These positions included roles such as assembler, fabricator, press operator, and general production. Using these competencies and credentials, the collaborative agreed upon the shared language of Certified Production Technician as the umbrella title for available positions. The four companies determined they would have 60 open positions available over the next 24 months. They also determined the requirements for the positions would be a high school diploma or equivalency; a motivation to work; soft skills training; the ability to pass a drug test; and basic reading and math skills.

Producing Solutions

Following the TMP approach, the four companies worked with The Foundry and created an 18-week Certified Production Technician training program. The employers provide materials and equipment, as well as on-the-job training or internships as part of the program.  The collaborative does not share any proprietary information and the companies leave their competitive nature at the door.

“We have all come to the table with the understanding that we can’t keep stealing employees from one another,” said Pallotta. “With the help of the Partnership and the TPM process, we have learned to change our mindset to create a sustainable solution that we can all benefit from.”

The employers are put in the center of the process, driving the training program, not just by national standards, but by criteria targeted to the specific needs of the local manufacturers.

The Supply Partner

The Partnership acts as the conduit for the companies, working with The Service Collaborative of Western New York to serve as supply partner. The non-profit service organization identifies candidates for the training program and helps to facilitate and coordinate the training at the Foundry.

The Service Collaborative also serves to help those in the training program overcome common barriers to employment, whether it is lack of a high school diploma, transportation and childcare issues or other problems.  This helps to increase program and employment retention rates.

“As a small non-profit, we have leaned on the Partnership to help build this program from the ground up,” explained Kroll-Haeick. “The Partnership has the relationships and experience in workforce development and understands the dynamics necessary to bring interested parties together.”

Moving Forward

The training program launched last month at the Foundry with about half a dozen candidates. Kroll-Haeick said they anticipate 100% placement for those who complete the 18-week program. As the program evolves, she said they have the capacity to train up to 60 people a year to keep adding to the collaborative’s talent pool. And true to the TPM process, the program will engage in continuous improvement, seeing what is working best and adjusting where necessary to better serve both the employer and potential employee.

“This program would not be possible without the support of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership,” concluded Pallotta. “They do the heavy lifting and are always moving forward in workforce development for the great benefit of its members.”

If you are interested in learning more about Pathways to Production or other TPM collaboratives, contact the Partnership today. For more specific information on TPM, please fill out our online request form.

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