Describes findings from an online survey of sixty-six manufacturing employers in the Puget Sound area of Washington, detailing employer needs, priorities, challenges, and recommendations for improving student preparedness.

“[T]o increase the connectedness and capacity of the Manufacturing Advancement Pathways Project (MAPP) at four community and technical colleges in the Puget Sound region….MAPP partners, which include college and workforce development organizations, have met regularly…[to take] actions to align their resources, and increase their understanding of where and how the manufacturing career pathway could be strengthened to meet the current and emerging needs of employers….Each of the MAPP college partners (South Seattle College, Shoreline College, Renton Technical College, and Everett Community College) provided data about the role(s) of employers in their manufacturing career pathway work. As part of their next step capacity building efforts the MAPP partners decided to survey a subgroup of employers whom they felt could provide more in depth information. The balance of this report focuses on the survey purpose, methods, results and implications” (p.5).

“The purpose of the MAPP Employer Survey was to use information provided by manufacturing employers to strengthen the talent pipeline to high demand entry and mid- level manufacturing jobs. The employer survey respondents were identified by MAPP partners. Surveys garnered information about:

  • Employer Hiring Needs, Sources and Priorities;
  • Employer Perceptions of Community and Technical College Graduate Preparedness for Work;
  • Employer Recommendations for Improving Student Preparedness
  • Employer Feedback about Workforce Retention Obstacles, Advancement Requirements and Opportunities; and
  • Employer Partnerships with Community and Technical colleges….

Sixty-six employers completed the 19 question on line survey tool. The majority (68%) of survey respondents were human services staff or managers. Another 18% identified themselves as recruiters. Examples of other respondent job titles included Company Owners, Talent Acquisition Managers, General Managers, Machining Specialists, Client Relations Managers, Senior Staff Analyst, Strategic Account Directors and Operations Managers. The number of employees in the 66 companies differed” (p.6).

(Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“The survey results suggest that the manufacturing talent pipeline capacity building efforts need to include: Timely collection and use of employer feedback Mechanisms for systematically garnering feedback from employers need to be put in place, focusing foremost on those who hire graduates of college and training programs….This information could help inform and improve curricula design and employer engagement efforts…. Long term Effects of Programs on Employment and Next Steps Education The routine and longer term collection of data that could be attributed in part to student engagement in training programs is a priority….This effort could promote strategies which extend the time frame and scope to include long term engagement of participants in next step education and employment than is currently tracked. This information could be very informative for understanding career trajectories and for marketing…. Positive branding and promotion of manufacturing careers… Beginning in the K-12 system and beyond, educators, career advisors, outreach specialists, employer and industry partners need to take a more active role in sharing information that introduces the ‘new world’ of manufacturing and the breadth of job opportunities. Integration of employer job preparedness and career advancement recommendations from this report into manufacturing training curricula Employers…shared their candid observations and advice about how to promote the job preparedness and career advancement outcomes of students….[M]any of the employer recommendations have broad application to other industries. Increased outreach to engage employers in community and technical college training programs A methodology for determining which manufacturing employers are/are not engaged in hiring community and technical colleges needs to be in place. Searches of employer openings…could be conducted to determine which employers are most likely to have job openings appropriate for graduates. Ideally these searches would be conducted at prescribed times with cross sector partners to ensure that the process is transparent, rigorous and shared” (p.17-18). (Abstractor: Author)