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Workforce

How Manufacturers Can Attract and Retain LGBT+ Talent

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Job openings in manufacturing remain high, with many manufacturers citing the shortage of skilled labor as a major business challenge. Increasingly, companies are taking a closer look at their internal cultures and asking themselves a crucial question: How can we make ourselves more attractive to new recruits from diverse backgrounds?

Seeking all willing workers: Panelists at the recent D&I Roundtable: Recruiting and Retaining LGBT+ Employees, hosted by The Manufacturing Institute, discussed the growing awareness among manufacturers of ensuring that their companies are LGBT+-friendly workplaces.

  • “When you build a psychologically safe environment, all employees benefit from it because all employees will start to share their ideas without [fear of] retribution,” said Entegris Senior Manager of Talent Management & Development Phillip Spencer.
  • “More generations identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community and want to work for companies that … support [them]. So, it really will benefit everyone and the bottom line of all of our companies” to be inclusive of the LGBT+ community.

Say no to “rainbow washing”: To recruit talent who identify as LGBT+, panelists agreed, manufacturers must genuinely create an accepting, open culture rather than just engage in “rainbow washing,”—i.e., adding a rainbow to company branding while offering few, if any, benefits to actual LGBT+ people.

  • Make sure your company is “really aligning your policies and your practices and those unspoken rules in your organization to make sure that you are doing the things that you say that you believe in when you’re talking about supporting the [LGBT+] community,” said Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Georgia Power Company and Southern Company Sloane Drake.
  • Entegris went back to basics with its inclusivity efforts, Spencer said, and it’s worked. “We started with a program talking about what does LGBTQ+ mean? And what does it mean in the workplace? Why are we talking about this in the workplace?”
  • The company also rejiggered its employee retirement fund structure when it realized the old setup did not account for same-sex couples, Spencer added.

Seek out ambassadors, but don’t push: LGBT+ employees can act as ambassadors to help a company build trust among other LGBT+ workers and prospective new talent, speakers said. Companies should seek out such potential representatives, but without assuming they will want to take on the responsibility.

  • “Nobody knows better what the experience is like than somebody who’s going through it,” said Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company Senior Engineer Arwen Kathke, who is also the community outreach chair for the Goodyear pride network. “Including those employees in your decision-making processes and having those conversations with them to understand what their experience is will go a long way.”
  • “We’ve really spent a lot of time educating” our workforce, Drake said. “It’s not the responsibility of every LGBTQ+ employee in our organization to explain what [LGBT+] means. We’ve actually put some of our employees who were willing through storytelling training; they felt very comfortable being able to share and tell their stories in large meetings and on videos and podcasts, and that was very powerful. But [you don’t want] to make it feel like the one person in the room who [identifies as LGBT+] has to be the only one who can speak on that topic.”

Measuring success: How can manufacturers determine whether they’re reaching LGBT+ talent? There are various way, panelists said.

  • “There’s one great metric that’s going to help any organization understand 100% if it’s inclusive: Do you allow people to self-identify?” Drake said.
  • Another way is to review employee representation data, as well as the number of self-identifying people moving through leadership-development pipelines into leadership positions.

The last word: “If you create a supportive environment and have your internal development done,” said Kathke, “with employees who are starting to step up and really foster that environment, that’s going to work out a lot better in the long run.”

Workforce

Husco Provides Jobs to Afghan Refugees

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For Jason Schuetz, Husco’s vice president of global operations and advanced manufacturing, what started out as meeting a business need at his company has turned into something profoundly more fulfilling.

How it all started: The Waukesha, Wisconsin–based company, which specializes in hydraulic and electromechanical control systems, had open positions that needed to be filled—a challenge that many manufacturers face daily.

  • “We were struggling for a long time to fill the positions that we had open. And we knew that if we continued to think in conventional ways, we would get conventional output and that was not much,” said Schuetz.
  • “We were short a number of direct hire positions, similar to a lot of places in the area,” added Husco Director of Operations Mark Dreikosen. “We were looking for creative solutions to fill our staffing needs.”

An opportunity knocks: After months of minimal results in the hiring search, an opportunity was brought to Husco through Lutheran Social Services to help provide jobs for Afghan refugees who fled from the Taliban and relocated in Waukesha.

  • After many internal conversations and external meetings with Lutheran Social Services and Manpower International, a global workforce solutions company, Husco moved forward in March.
  • The result? Over the past several months, Husco has hired and welcomed 33 Afghan refugees.
  • “It was needs based, really, for Husco,” said Dreikosen. “Fortunately for us, it wasn’t the first time we’ve done something like this. We’ve helped support groups who have emigrated from Myanmar, formerly Burma, under similar context where there’s political unrest.”

Adapting to change: Schuetz said that 2016 experience helped Husco prepare for some of the challenges the company faced with regard to documentation, language and some cultural differences, but new challenges surfaced as well.

  • Schuetz said that being very fresh to the U.S. workforce, the refugees needed to be taught what the “professional expectations were in the U.S.”
  • Work instructions needed to be translated into Pashto and reformatted to accommodate reading from right to left rather than left to right.
  • “None of the individuals had licenses or had a means of getting to work,” said Schuetz. “So, we needed to quickly lean on and partner with Manpower—who has been vital in this—to help find and set up transportation.”
  • To accommodate religious needs, Husco set up multi-faith meditation spaces so the new employees can pray throughout the day. In addition, for a facility-wide event during Ramadan, the company catered appropriate food so individuals could still participate and be part of the team while practicing their religious obligations.

Breaking the language barrier: To help the refugees’ English-speaking skills, Husco ensures there are translators available on every shift.

  • Two employees, Hamza Jebran and Baitullah Jan—Afghan refugees themselves who studied English—serve as translators for their new colleagues. (Click here to watch an interview with Jebran.)
  • “Another of our employees, Habib, couldn’t speak a word of English when we first met him a few months ago, and now we can have a conversation with him,” said Dreikosen. “Sometimes we will have one of our employees come up during a shift meeting and teach the rest of the crew some Pashto as they’re trying to learn some English and share their culture at the same time. It’s really cool to see.”

Eager to learn: For Dreikosen, the refugees’ motivation and eagerness to learn transcend the language and other cultural differences.

  • “They’re as driven and motivated as any other employee who comes through Husco’s doors—and we caught on to that very quickly,” he said. “Their drive for success, given their situation, and how important it is to have a home and to feel welcomed, it’s inspiring.”

Strong foundation: Schuetz says that what has made Husco’s refugee program a success is the company’s strong foundation with its current employees.

  • “It’s been successful for us because we have always made it a point to treat our people fairly and with respect,” he said. “The refugees have been welcomed by their fellow employees because they know that we treat everyone this way, and we would help anyone. There are many challenges, but this team decided they were going to make this work, and every obstacle that they encountered, they knocked it down and moved the ball forward.”
  • The support from Husco has made the program a success: “It starts with our supervisors, our quality engineers, our technicians—they’re all in. They know there’s going to be bumps along the way, but they’ve bought in and know that this is the right thing to do,” said Dreikosen.
  • Dreikosen notes that Husco is now receiving more referrals and inquiries from job seekers of all sorts of backgrounds. They’ve heard about the good the company does and how welcoming it is, and that attention has made the company more attractive in the eyes of job seekers.

The last word: “When this opportunity was brought to us through Lutheran Social Services, we grabbed onto it tightly and realized that with the challenges that we were going to encounter day to day, the end game was so much greater,” said Schuetz. “It’s been rewarding in so many ways.”

What the NAM says: “With more than 900,000 open jobs in manufacturing, we need to attract and hire from the widest talent pool possible,” said Manufacturing Institute President Carolyn Lee. “When manufacturers hire refugees, they see fewer turnovers and increased efficiencies, and at the same time, they’re helping improve the lives of refugees, their families and communities. Increasing diversity in the talent pool and developing more inclusive workplaces strengthens the competitive advantage of our industry and our workforce.”

Workforce

“It Is the Future”: Creators Wanted Arrives in Midland, Michigan

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The Creators Wanted Tour marked several milestones yesterday, as it kicked off its 10th stop on its cross-country trek and first-ever appearance at a major golf tournament.

In the swing of things: With generous support from Dow, the Creators Wanted Tour—a joint initiative of the NAM and its workforce development and education partner, The Manufacturing Institute—arrived in Midland, Michigan, this week for the LPGA Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational.

  • The tour’s goal: to educate and excite students, parents, teachers and other mentors across the country about careers in modern manufacturing—in part with trips through an immersive series of “escape rooms” where participants get hands-on with advanced manufacturing, learn about the creative skills at work in the industry and have fun solving riddles and puzzles that unpack key information about manufacturing careers.
  • Dow recently announced that it is doubling its initial Creators Wanted campaign commitment to $2 million, which will help ensure continued tour stops and more outreach to the next generation of manufacturers.

Competitors needed: For the U.S. to remain competitive on the world stage, its manufacturing sector requires willing, dedicated talent, Dow Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair Jim Fitterling told the audience at the tour stop’s kickoff event on Wednesday. Fitterling joined representatives from the NAM, the MI and the Michigan Manufacturers Association.

  • “The competitiveness of America’s workforce is critical,” Fitterling said. “If we want those supply chains back here, it isn’t a labor cost issue. It’s really [about] skills, and it’s also [about worker] interest.”
  • Michigan Manufacturers Association President and CEO John Walsh agreed, saying, “The number-one concern in every single company across the entire state in every single industry is personnel—getting people who are interested in manufacturing to come work and stay and move forward.”
  • The industry has averaged 800,000 job openings every month for more than a year, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons noted.
  • That could spell trouble for the economy as a whole, said Manufacturing Institute President Carolyn Lee: “By the end of 2030, if we don’t fill these jobs, it could be a $1 trillion loss in GDP for the U.S.”

Not your grandparents’ manufacturing: The speakers pointed out that manufacturers must counteract the outdated and erroneous perceptions about their industry.

  • “An awful lot of students say that they won’t consider going into manufacturing because they aren’t encouraged by their parents to go into that field,” Fitterling said. “And sometimes they have perceptions about manufacturing that just aren’t current and aren’t modern. Creators Wanted is about … [giving] them a hands-on experience to show them what’s going on in advanced manufacturing today. This is a world that’s very digital. … There are all kinds of new technologies being used.”
  • One of the Creators Wanted Tour’s measurable goals by 2025 is “to change the perception for parents from 27% [favorability regarding manufacturing], where we began just a couple years ago, to 50%,” Lee said.

BAs not required: Manufacturing also offers career paths that don’t require a college degree, the speakers noted—another potential advantage that young people should know.

  • “There’s an alternative to college,” Fitterling said. “College is wonderful. And for those who wish to pursue that, they should, but there are students who might want to make something with their hands.”
  • Timmons recounted how his own father, who worked in the retail industry, was determined that Timmons attend college. “He said, ‘I want you to pursue a different type of career,’” Timmons said. “[But] I think we’ve gone full circle. And I think we realize now that today the manufacturing industry is the future. It is the future that everybody wants for their children.”

The last say: Careers that start on factory floors in manufacturing facilities can lead to leadership roles, Fitterling reminded the audience.

  • “Many generations of people in manufacturing [at Dow] have had great careers, and some have even gone on to lead companies out of that background,” he said. “We want to show students what’s possible and make sure that we use this [Creators Wanted] platform to get that message out and have the impact that we want to have throughout the United States.”

Related: Earlier in the day at a Success, Opportunity, Acceleration and Resilience (SOAR) event, during a fireside chat with Dow Senior Vice President of Operations, Manufacturing and Engineering John Sampson and in front of a packed crowd, Lee announced that Dow is providing a $500,000 grant over four years to support the MI’s Women MAKE America’s 35×30 campaign. The campaign aims to see women represent 35% of the manufacturing workforce by 2030.

Coming up next: The Creators Wanted Tour will come to several cities, including Columbia, South Carolina, Chicago and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in fall 2022.

Workforce

“You’re Your Own Limit”: Andrea Tucker Talks Success at Smithfield Foods

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If you want to be like Andrea Tucker, just ask her how she got to where she is today—she’ll happily help you plot a path to professional success like hers.

Rising to the top: Tucker is a complex plant manager at Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel, North Carolina, the largest pork-processing plant in the world. But she didn’t begin there, and she wants other Smithfield employees to know it.

  • “I started as an hourly employee on third shift, and now I’m running the plant,” said Tucker, a 2019 honoree of The Manufacturing Institute’s STEP Ahead Awards (now the Women MAKE America Awards). “If you want to be me, let’s put a plan together and work toward it. At Smithfield, if you put in the work, it gets noticed.”

Manufacturing from the start: Tucker, a Georgia native, grew up on a small tobacco farm. In 2000, a lifetime affinity for numbers, process and mathematics led her to answer an ad seeking an accounting inventory clerk at Smithfield.

  • “For me, working in manufacturing kind of closed the gap of what happens after things are grown or made or after animals are raised,” Tucker said. “A passion was ignited in me: [for] the process flows, the ‘people’ side of things and how things work. I could use my love of math and make and see real change. From that day on, I felt like I could do something that mattered.”

“You’re your own limit”: Since joining Smithfield, Tucker has worked in multiple positions across the meat-packing company’s accounting and operations teams. Along the way, she received encouragement from management, and that backing has led her to become a trusted mentor to other employees.

  • “[When I was an hourly worker], I was told, ‘You have a good grasp of how things work. You know how to motivate and inspire people. Have you thought of operations?’” Tucker recalled of her first career change within Smithfield. “Smithfield is a big advocate of ‘you’re your own limit.’ You’re not tied to one plant or position or department.”
  • At the company’s urging, after 12 years in Tar Heel, Tucker took a position at Smithfield’s Wilson, North Carolina, facility as plant manager.

Women in manufacturing: The move “inspired me to see results, not only in processes but in other people, primarily women,” Tucker said.

  • “For many [of the women at the facility], I was not only Andrea the manager but Andrea the counselor, Andrea the person I can talk to about this problem I’m having with my 13-year-old,” she said. “There were a lot of single moms.”
  • The success stories among this contingent are many, Tucker said. Here’s one: Tucker noticed that an employee, a young mother, was struggling personally—and she learned that the woman was at risk of losing custody of her children. “I said, ‘Look, I know you have three kids, and this is not the life you wanted. I need you to be able to be that responsible parent. Smithfield has an employee assistance program; let’s get you enrolled. If I get your commitment that you’re ready for change, I will make sure you stay that course.’”
  • The employee did. “She put forth the effort. She and her kids, they’re thriving. She’s even enrolled in one of our emerging leaders programs.”

Opportunities abound: Smithfield continues to create pathways to professional advancement for its employees. These include:

  • A tuition reimbursement program;
  • A mentorship program; and
  • Women’s Connect, a mentorship program specifically for women.

Continuing to inspire: Tucker came back to Tar Heel earlier this year, in another step upward within the company. When she was first offered her current job, Tucker—despite having coached so many employees successfully—wasn’t sure she would be able to do it.

  • “Then I told myself, ‘Think about all the stories where people said they never thought they could do more,’” she said. “It reminded me, ‘You reached out and touched so many people at Wilson, why are you not giving yourself the same opportunity in Tar Heel, back where you started?’”

The last word: Tucker has advice for those daunted by moving up the ladder at work. “At the end of the day, it’s just people,” she said. “You take it one day at a time, and you just try to touch the lives of as many people as you can.”

Press Releases

Dow Doubles Commitment to $2 Million for Manufacturing’s Largest Workforce Campaign

Investment Will Enable Creators Wanted to Build on Its Historic Impact in More Communities Across the Country

MIDLAND, Mich. – Dow, the National Association of Manufacturers and The Manufacturing Institute announced today that Dow has committed an additional $1 million to the Creators Wanted campaign. This new pledge is on top of the $1 million Dow has already contributed to the NAM and the MI’s campaign designed to educate, inspire and empower the next generation of manufacturers.

Dow’s latest financial contribution ensures Creators Wanted can continue to recruit new manufacturers online and in person throughout 2022, bringing the experience to thousands of additional students, parents, career mentors and community leaders nationwide. Creators Wanted will make its next public stop at the Ladies Professional Golf Association’s Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational July 13–16, bringing the experience to thousands of tournament goers and students.

“It is now more important than ever to invest in America’s future manufacturing workforce,” said Dow Chairman and CEO and NAM Board Chair Jim Fitterling. “Not only does the fate of U.S. manufacturing competitiveness rest in significant part on our ability to build the future workforce, but we also have an opportunity to lift up more people with the promise and possibility of manufacturing careers. Dow is proud to invest an additional $1 million in the NAM and MI’s Creators Wanted campaign. We’ve already been able to inspire thousands of students through Creators Wanted and look forward to bringing this experience to Midland and other communities moving forward.”

In addition to the upcoming Creators Wanted activation at GLBI, Dow’s new round of support will bring the mobile experience to several more cities, including Chicago, Columbia, South Carolina, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, among others, throughout fall 2022 and into spring 2023. This capitalizes on the momentum from Dow’s previous contribution that helped bring Creators Wanted to six U.S. cities⁠—Columbus, Ohio; Columbia, South Carolina; Pella, Iowa; Charlotte, North Carolina; Fort Worth, Texas; and Freeport, Texas⁠—for its inaugural fall 2021 tour.

Manufacturing in the United States today has more than 900,000 open jobs. By 2025, Creators Wanted aims to recruit 600,000 new manufacturers; increase the number of students enrolling in technical and vocational schools or reskilling programs by 25%; and increase the positive perception of the industry among parents and career mentors. The campaign features a first-of-its-kind student- and teacher-endorsed traveling immersive experience and jobs tour, which has brought together more than 5,000 students in person and recruited more than 200,000 students and career mentors to learn more about modern manufacturing careers after only seven brief stops.

“Dow’s unwavering commitment to manufacturing and Creators Wanted will allow us to do more to tackle the critical need for workers now and reach into more local communities to educate teachers, parents and other career mentors and students about rewarding careers in modern manufacturing,” said NAM President and CEO and MI Board Chair Jay Timmons. “The NAM is proud to announce our continued and strong partnership with Dow to strengthen U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and build the American manufacturing workforce of tomorrow.”

The campaign is also underpinned by sustained workforce development and education initiatives at the MI, targeting youth, veterans, women and other underrepresented communities throughout the country.

“The MI is grateful to Dow whose support bolsters our ability to achieve a critical component of our mission—to attract and develop world-class manufacturing talent,” said MI President Carolyn Lee. “With Dow’s support, the MI can expand our reach, furthering our opportunities to educate the next generation of manufacturers on the lucrative and fulfilling careers that exist in modern manufacturing for people of all backgrounds and interests.”

Through the campaign, the NAM seeks to continue its mission to remediate common misperceptions about careers in manufacturing and provide resources and opportunities that will help reduce the skills gap and improve lives.

For more information on the campaign, visit CreatorsWanted.org and view results from previous tour stops here.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.7 million men and women, contributes $2.71 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

-The Manufacturing Institute-

The MI grows and supports the manufacturing industry’s skilled workers for the advancement of modern manufacturing. The MI’s diverse initiatives support all workers in America, including women, veterans and students, through skills training programs, community building and the advancement of their career in manufacturing. As the workforce development and education partner of the NAM, the MI is a trusted adviser to manufacturers, equipping them with resources necessary to solve the industry’s toughest challenges. For more information on the MI, please visit www.themanufacturinginstitute.org.

-Dow-
Dow (NYSE: DOW) combines global breadth; asset integration and scale; focused innovation and materials science expertise; leading business positions; and environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership to achieve profitable growth and deliver a sustainable future. The Company’s ambition is to become the most innovative, customer centric, inclusive and sustainable materials science company in the world. Dow’s portfolio of plastics, industrial intermediates, coatings and silicones businesses delivers a broad range of differentiated, science-based products and solutions for its customers in high-growth market segments, such as packaging, infrastructure, mobility and consumer applications. Dow operates 104 manufacturing sites in 31 countries and employs approximately 35,700 people. Dow delivered sales of approximately $55 billion in 2021. References to Dow or the Company mean Dow Inc. and its subsidiaries. For more information, please visit www.dow.com or follow @DowNewsroom on Twitter.

Press Releases

New Study: Ports Stoppage Would Be Devastating Hit to Manufacturers’ Competitiveness

Cost Economy Half a Billion Dollars a Day, Destroy 41,000 U.S. Jobs

Washington, D.C. – As negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union near a critical deadline, manufacturers are sounding the alarm about potential economic consequences of a port stoppage if disruption were to occur over two weeks at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s largest port complex. According to a study by Inforum Economics, a 15-day disruption would cost the U.S. economy nearly half a billion dollars a day—for a total of $7.5 billion—and destroy 41,000 jobs, including more than 6,100 in manufacturing.

As the industry continues to grapple with historic supply chain challenges, inflationary pressures and rising transportation and energy costs, manufacturers are calling on the parties to reach an agreement immediately to avoid this continued uncertainty.

“The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach support a major share of cargo relied upon by American businesses and consumers, supporting supply chains across the entire country. With supply chains already stretched thin, inflation at its highest level in four decades and concerns of a recession rising, any disruption would mean a devastating hit to our economy and to manufacturers’ competitiveness,” said National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons. “The disruption would be felt immediately. Manufacturing jobs will be lost if parts and supplies don’t arrive. New equipment, machinery and products can’t be built when ships are backed up and there is no one available to unload and process cargo. Our overseas customers won’t wait for us to fix these disruptions, either—they’ll simply find other suppliers, weakening U.S. manufacturing competitiveness in the process.

“This is why the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union must not allow a disruption at these ports. Manufacturers, our millions of employees and the countless others whose lives and livelihoods depend on the products we make are counting on the PMA and the ILWU to reach a resolution and keep the ports running.”

Background: At the time of publication, the PMA and ILWU are engaged in labor negotiations. The NAM commissioned an analysis using the Inforum LIFT economic model to quantify the impacts of a 15-day closure at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Specifically, it estimates how such a closure would impact U.S. employment, output and income. These ports have experienced historic disruptions and bottlenecks since late 2020, and nearly 84% of manufacturers now list freight and transportation costs as a key driver of inflation.

-NAM-

The National Association of Manufacturers is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12.7 million men and women, contributes $2.71 trillion to the U.S. economy annually and accounts for 58% of private-sector research and development. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States. For more information about the NAM or to follow us on Twitter and Facebook, please visit www.nam.org.

Workforce

“It Changed a Lot in My Life”: Tyson Foods’ Workforce Programs

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If it hadn’t been for his cousin, Tagba Djato-Bougonou might never have found Tyson Foods.

In 2017, the engineer was working at a bank in Iowa, where he’d ultimately relocated after emigrating from Togo in West Africa. He was living with his cousin, who was working at Tyson Foods, when the cousin told him about Tyson’s 1+2 Maintenance Program.

“He told me about the good stuff that Tyson has and the 1+2 Maintenance Program and what I could achieve with it,” Djato-Bougonou recalls. “And I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to take a shot with that program.’”

  • Djato-Bougonou, who has an engineering background and a graduate degree from a U.S. university, was quickly hired on as part of the initiative.
  • 1+2 allows new hires to “earn while you learn” by splitting their workdays between a classroom and hands-on work in a Tyson facility. It gets its name from the one year of education and training participants do, followed by the two years they commit to working for the company.

The results speak for themselves: now a full-time project engineer in Tyson’s Fresh Meats department, Djato-Bougonou is also pursuing a Ph.D. in innovation and project management.

Tyson’s workforce initiatives are increasingly designed to find and reward employees like Djato-Bougonou, who come to Tyson with impressive professional backgrounds earned in other countries.

  • “We try to find candidates that, like Tagba, have a deep portfolio outside the U.S. and [whom] we can upskill, with some English and some recertification in the U.S.,” said Tyson Foods Workforce Development Trailblazer Anson Green, who leads economic opportunity efforts, including the in-plant career-development program Upward Pathways.
  • In many of the more rural communities that are home to Tyson plants, “there is no large labor pool to draw from,” Green said. Creating unique paths for non-native-born employees to fill skilled-worker roles is a strategy that has helped fill this void.

The success stories are numerous, including many team members who came to the company to apply for one job but, owing to education or work experience garnered internationally, were able to continue on a professional path they thought they’d had to give up.

  • One team member, formerly a nurse in her home country, is now developing her English skills and preparing for recertification in the U.S. to work at one of Tyson’s onsite health clinics, according to Green.
  • Another team member who now works at a Tyson Foods’ Arkansas plant was previously a legal aide in the Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic. With Tyson’s support, she is also developing her English skills and will be applying to work as a paralegal in the company’s corporate office in Northwest Arkansas.

The last word: For Djato-Bougonou and other Tyson team members who have benefited from an encouraging corporate leadership, the sky’s now the professional limit.

  • “I wanted to be part of things which can make a big difference in people’s lives,” Djato-Bougonou said, adding that with the 1+2 Program under his belt, he now feels empowered to do just that. “This program … gave me quite a lot of new skills. It changed a lot of things in my own life.”
Workforce

How Manufacturers Are Investing in Their Future Workforce

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How are manufacturers developing a workforce for a fast-changing industry in a fast-changing decade? Recently, Manufacturing Institute President Carolyn Lee sat down with leaders at Union Pacific Railroad and the Caterpillar Foundation to find out.

Union Pacific Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations and Chief Administrative Officer Scott Moore discussed his company’s efforts to recruit more women and young people to the manufacturing industry. Caterpillar Foundation President Asha Varghese weighed in on Caterpillar Foundation’s efforts to support training opportunities for the military community and introduce high school students to innovative manufacturing careers.

What Union Pacific is up to: The Union Pacific and MI partnership is centered around a program called Careers on Track. This three-year, $3 million initiative is aimed at changing perceptions of the rail industry and encouraging women and youth to pursue careers in the field.

  • As part of Careers on Track, Union Pacific and the MI developed Future Creators, a digital STEM curriculum focused on transportation, distribution and logistics.
  • Future Creators has been used in more than 24,000 middle schools across the country with 80% of students increasing their knowledge of STEM careers.

How they’re doing it: The MI and Union Pacific created a 3D digital experience of a Union Pacific yard and locomotive that is designed to help women and young people explore technical fields interactively.

  • Their other outreach efforts include 30-second PSA-style videos that showcase female employees and their stories to highlight career paths at Union Pacific and events hosted through the MI’s STEP Women’s Initiative.
  • Union Pacific has reached more than 250,000 women through this content, demonstrating what women just like them can achieve in the manufacturing industry.

Union Pacific says: “We’ve always known diversity is key at Union Pacific, and to achieve that, there are deliberate things we need to do,” said Moore. “We’re going to have to reach people. Around 90% of our workforce is union, primarily in the field, across 23 states and 7,000 communities. We have to get in those communities—and The Manufacturing Institute gave us the tools to do that well.”

What Caterpillar is doing: The Caterpillar Foundation’s partnership with the MI is investing in workforce readiness and building an empowered and skilled manufacturing workforce.

  • This partnership is expanding the MI’s Heroes MAKE America program, which provides certification and career-readiness training to transitioning service members, veterans, military spouses and others who work in or with the armed services.
  • One of the partnership’s first efforts was to create a fully virtual program to further Heroes’ reach regardless of physical location.
  • The first 100% virtual Certified Production Technician training program was launched in late 2021, in partnership with Texas State Technical College and TRANSFRVR.

In addition, the Caterpillar Foundation is also working with the MI’s FAME program—a 21-month apprenticeship program founded by Toyota that grants certifications and prepares young people for high-skilled jobs in the manufacturing workforce.

  • Most recently, the MI and the Caterpillar Foundation created a new FAME chapter in Seguin, Texas.

Caterpillar says: “Caterpillar Foundation focuses on resilient communities, and we understand the importance of investing in local communities in order to ensure that we’re providing them with the right resources, with the right services and with the right skills for employability,” said Varghese. “What really attracted us to the MI is first and foremost that strategic alignment…focusing on that untapped talent.”

The last word: “As a nonprofit, the MI depends on the investments of corporate and philanthropic leaders to tackle the workforce crisis in manufacturing with innovative, exciting workforce solutions,” said Lee. “The MI’s work has expanded to include a full collection of initiatives that not only train individuals for rewarding careers but also provide the thought leadership, best practices and learning networks that manufacturers need to address their workforce issues.”

Workforce

STEP Ahead Awards Honor Women in Manufacturing

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The Manufacturing Institute’s 10th annual STEP Ahead Awards took place in Washington, D.C., last week, honoring some of the most impressive and inspiring women in the manufacturing industry today. The Awards are part of the STEP Ahead program, which is designed to help advance women’s achievements in the fields of science, technology, engineering and production.

  • The event highlighted the 2022 STEP Ahead Honorees (100 women who are leaders in manufacturing) and the 2022 STEP Ahead Emerging Leaders (30 women under 30 years old who have already had a significant impact on the industry).

The awards ceremony took place on Thursday night, with hundreds of guests in attendance at the National Building Museum and hundreds more viewing the ceremony online. The program featured:

  • 2022 STEP Chair and former 3M Senior Vice President Denise Rutherford;
  • 2022 STEP Vice Chair and Cornerstone Building Brands President and CEO Rose Lee;
  • MI President Carolyn Lee;
  • MI Vice President of Strategic Engagement and Inclusion AJ Jorgenson; and
  • NAM President and CEO and MI Board Chair Jay Timmons.

Sponsors included an all-star roster of manufacturers, including Arconic Foundation, BASF Corporation, Cornerstone Building Brands, PTC, Trane Technologies, ABB, Molson Coors, Novelis, Rockwell Automation, SABIC, Sherwin-Williams and Toyota.

What they said: Carolyn Lee lauded the Honorees and spoke about the importance of closing the skills gap by bringing more women into the manufacturing industry.

  • “My hope is that 10 years down the line, when we meet here for the 20th anniversary of these awards, the young women we will honor won’t have even heard of the glass ceiling, because it’ll be ancient history,” said Lee.
  • “And that will be thanks to the support system, the mentorship and the sterling examples set by the women in this room and the support from our allies.”

Rutherford spoke about leaders’ opportunities to work together to make important progress.

  • “Throughout my career, I’ve learned that being a great leader, as an individual or as a company, means that we don’t go it alone,” said Rutherford. “True change only happens when we work together as trusted allies, advocates and sponsors.”

Rose Lee laid out the qualities that all the Honorees showed and highlighted their shared successes.

  • “The STEP Ahead Awards recognize women in science, technology, engineering and production who exemplify leadership within their companies and within their communities,” said Lee. “Tonight is their night to celebrate their accomplishments.”

Timmons praised the STEP Honorees and called on allies to continue supporting women in the manufacturing industry.

  • “Your achievements, your success and your dedication are showing women what’s possible in manufacturing,” he said. “If you can see it, you know you can be it.”

35×30: Carolyn Lee and Jorgenson spoke about the 35×30 initiative—a program designed to close the skills and talent gap in manufacturing by adding half a million women workers to the industry, increasing women’s representation in manufacturing from 29% today to 35% by 2030.

  • The campaign will train more than 1,000 women mentors, build new tools and resources and work with manufacturing leaders to deploy proven strategies to attract and retain female talent.
  • It will also support young women throughout their education by offering best-in-class leadership development programming and creating a STEP alumnae-funded scholarship.
  • “Tonight, we are done with waiting for other leaders to ‘change things,’ to make society better, more equitable,” said Jorgenson. “We are the leaders. So, tonight, we ask you to join us, to lead.”

New commitments: To help this new initiative along its way, Arconic Foundation President Ryan Kish and Ketchie CEO Courtney Silver stood up during the ceremony to pledge new financial commitments to the program.

The last word: The gala featured a stellar musical performance by award-winning singer–songwriter Rachel Platten, which left not a dry eye in the house. Inspired by the women of STEP, she surprised the audience by singing a new song she’d written for her daughters. It captures what the women leaders of today want to tell the girls who will someday be their heirs:

Girls, you were born to run. To reach the stars and chase the sun.

Girls, you’re wild and free. The wind is at your back, the world is at your feet.

Workforce

i2M Is Meeting Employees’ Child Care, Transportation Needs

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Not many manufacturers can say COVID-19 heralded the start of something great for their businesses, but Alex Grover may be the exception.

At Grover’s company, the Mountain Top, Pennsylvania–based plastics film manufacturer i2M, the pandemic gave rise to two important new employee offerings: Innovation 2 Education (i2E) and Innovation 2 Transportation (i2T).

A pandemic “pod”: To enable employees to keep coming to work when schools closed in early 2020, Grover, who is president of i2M, hired a local school teacher and offered an onsite learning pod for employees’ children.

  • The pod endured for several months during the height of the virus’ first wave, enabling i2M team members who were also parents to work and earn money—without having to worry about child care or education.

A larger offering: Yet, as schools began to reopen in 2021, Grover and her team realized the need for child care was not subsiding. In fact, for parents of younger, non-school-age children, it had become even more pronounced than before.

  • “People weren’t able to rejoin the workforce—not because they didn’t want to, but because there were new barriers,” Grover said. In families “with two working parents, a lack of accessible child care made it difficult for one parent to work in manufacturing. In single-parent households, it was essentially impossible.”
  • Compounding the problem for manufacturing workers is the fact that good care offerings are often only available during the day. “Child care today is typically designed for 9-to-5 office jobs,” Grover said. “In smaller communities like Mountain Top, it is not usually aligned with work that involves 12-hour shifts.”

Changing the face of care: Grover and her team set out to change that. Working with local child care services provider Building Blocks, another woman-owned business in the area, i2M began offering subsidized, extended-hours child care for employees’ kids in January of this year.

  • “The goal of developing this program with Building Blocks was, ‘How do we better align the hours to fit with a manufacturing schedule?’” Grover said. “It’s up to businesses to support their team with child care solutions that are a win for all.”

What’s more, Building Blocks is currently considering offering overnight care for the children of third-shift workers.

Gunning for success: Another challenge i2M has set out to solve is an often cited one among i2M employees: transportation. In late 2021, the company rolled out its i2T plan, a partnership with the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Development, to give interest-free loans to i2M team members for car repair or replacement.

  • “It’s super disruptive for both the team member and plant operations when a machine operator can’t come in because their car breaks down or they need emergency repairs,” Grover said. “So, we developed the program to provide fast solutions when that happens.”

Thus far, the program has paid out more than $23,000 in 0% interest loans to its team members, who have the principal automatically deducted from their paychecks each pay period.

  • Since starting the program, “there have been zero call-offs due to transportation issues,” Grover said.

Next steps: There are plans to expand both i2E and i2T.

  • i2M owns a 12,000-square-foot space just up the street from its manufacturing facility and is currently determining how to turn it into a full-time child care center, both for employees of i2M and for other local companies.
  • Grover is also working on developing a car-loan program framework that i2M can “roll out to other manufacturers,” she said.

The last word: As Grover put it, “There’s so much opportunity to remove barriers to manufacturing employment. The more people we can bring into the workforce, the greater our ability to deliver results for our customers, our community and the manufacturing industry.”

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