"The Roadmap to Education Reform for Manufacturing", presented by The Manufacturing Institute on March 31, lays out six principles for innovative reform, including moving to competency-based education; establishing and expanding industry-education partnerships; infusing technology "lean" to reduce education costs; and, expanding successful youth development programs.
"These principles can and should be readily applied in current federal and state legislative and budget deliberations," said Emily DeRocco, president, The Manufacturing Institute, which is part of the National Association of Manufacturers. "Building an educated and skilled workforce is one of the most significant actions we can take to ensure U.S. leadership in manufacturing."
Research by The Manufacturing Institute has shown that innovation is the greatest driver of success for U.S. manufacturers and that a skilled and educated workforce is the single most critical element of innovation capacity. A skilled workforce is also the hardest asset to acquire; during the height of the last recession, 32% of manufacturers cited difficulty finding skilled workers.
"Manufacturers look to address deficits in the education system the same way they look to improve and expedite their supply chain. We have partnered with the disruptive innovators in education to develop strategies to address each critical choke point along the education continuum, ultimately to develop and advance the new workforce that will keep us competitive in the complex global economy."
Examples of the specific recommendations are:
- Wise investment in early childhood education;
- The integration of nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials in high school and community college degree programs of study;
- Educational pathways in high school and college that are standards-based, performance-based, and proficiency-based, not seat-time based;
- More technology-driven alternatives for secondary and postsecondary education;
- Compressed high school-college schedules via early college and dual enrollment models; and
- More internships and mentorships to align higher education with industry competency and skills requirements.