It would have been an impressive feat no matter what, but Ducommun’s achievement of a robust and highly attended MFG Day 2021 was made all the more remarkable by the fact the company had been an NAM member for just nine months.
MFG Day, an annual program of the NAM’s nonprofit workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute, highlights the opportunities and potential of modern manufacturing careers by encouraging thousands of companies and educational institutions around the nation to open their doors to students, parents, teachers and community leaders.
“As a leader in innovative manufacturing, Ducommun supports National Manufacturing Day, as well as other education and community-based STEM programs and initiatives, that nurture and develop the next generation of creators, builders, technicians and innovators,” said Chonta Salts, Ducommun corporate HR business partner. “Our goal for MFG Day was to engage with students, parents and educators to broaden their understanding of modern manufacturing and to highlight the range of full-time opportunities, internships and part-time summer jobs available to them.”
Their MFG Day: Ducommun, a 172-year-old Santa Ana, California-based provider of technology-driven structural and electronic solutions for the aerospace, defense and industrial markets, coordinated employee and representative visits with 11 high schools and colleges nationwide. Each school is local to one of Ducommun’s U.S. manufacturing performance centers.
- Events were held in person at Ducommun, in classrooms at local schools and online through livestream. Ducommun leadership teams, engineers, technicians and production team members engaged with students about what a career in modern manufacturing is really like—and how much room it offers for professional growth and advancement.
- “Employees shared their own success stories: starting out in entry-level production positions, completing training programs to advance to technical, engineering or other professional positions and what they do in their current role,” said Ducommun Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Rose Rogers. “I think that’s a key component of rolling it out. You have to engage with students at their level. By having our employees connect with the students, they were able to ask questions directly to our employees.”
What they did: Ducommun’s MFG Day success was bolstered by the fact that the company has long been involved in sponsoring local-school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities. So come October, it already had many connections at nearby schools.
- Ducommun team members attended the virtual training sessions offered on the MFG Day section of creatorswanted.org,Salts said.
- Using the site’s resources page, Salts worked with the company’s communications team to transform their standardized presentation into one for high school audiences that could be easily customized by HR leaders responsible for local events.
- Rogers and Salts “got buy-in and feedback from senior leadership” early in the planning process.
- They ensured their events were dynamic, interactive and interesting to the students because “we didn’t want to sit them in a conference room, watch a presentation and wish they were back at school!” Rogers said, with a laugh.
Facts and figures: Ducommun started its MFG Day planning “months” in advance, Salts said, and the work paid off. Here are some of the specific results:
- More than 500 students attended and participated in Ducommun’s MFG Day events.
- There were five in-school presentations by Ducommun team members.
- The day included 17 student presentations.
- There were six onsite visits by students to Ducommun performance centers.
- The day had one virtual presentation.
The payoff: Ducommun’s participation in MFG Day is part of its commitment to build the next generation of creators and innovators, Salts said. Though it’s still too early for the company to have reaped the workforce rewards of its autumn outreach, Rogers said it has received a great deal of interest from students about full- and part-time jobs after graduation. Ducommun expects to fill many open positions in late spring and summer 2022.
- “We invested in MFG Day because one of our core beliefs and commitments is to support the communities where we live and work,” Rogers said. “We emphasized that working at Ducommun wasn’t going to be just a job—this could be a long-term play for students because they can build a career with us. Being able to engage with them was invaluable.”
For more information on MFG Day and how to host a successful one next year, visit www.creatorswanted.org/resources/.