A continuing mission to celebrate manufacturing

Alliance reflects on a decade of making a difference

Posted on May 15, 2016 :: Insight From
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

Paul Rauscher is the CEO of EMT International and one of the founding members of the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance.

If you are like me, finding talent is a challenge that has a significant impact on my company. This is why the NEW Manufacturing Alliance, www.newmfgalliance.org, was formed in 2006. The organization was charged to change the image of manufacturing and attract talent by working collaboratively with K-16 education, workforce and economic development. The Alliance has grown to more than 180 member companies representing more than 40,000 employees in the 18 counties of Northeast Wisconsin.

The significant difference between the Alliance and other organizations is that it is manufacturer-led.  When the Alliance was formed, I knew manufacturers had to get out and share their stories, including what occupations and skills are needed in advanced manufacturing. As a fellow manufacturer, you know our passion for the industry. With that said, who is better to share that message than us?

In the 10 years since the Alliance was formed, we have seen dramatic results from manufacturers working together to promote manufacturing. Local tech colleges have seen increases in enrollment and graduation rates of manufacturing degrees in excess of 300 percent. The Alliance membership has supported more than $140,000 in college scholarships during the past 10 years. We have actively engaged with New North-area colleges in creating a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology.

Other activities supporting college student engagement include Internships Draft Day at Lambeau Field. The event brings college students from throughout the state and Michigan for a college internship fair — with a twist. Students receive points for how well they interview during the day as well as their grade-point average and work experience. At the end of the event, Mark Murphy from the Green Bay Packers announces the No. 1 draft pick from each college.   

Another important relationship the Alliance has developed is with the K-12 schools. Never before have I seen the desire from both industry and education to work together. This is very evident at the Alliance’s “Excellence in Manufacturing/K-12 Partnerships Awards” dinner held in October. Last year, 360 people attended the event and more than $12,000 was raised in college scholarships. During the last five years of hosting the event, we have seen educators and manufacturers celebrate the value of working together. The Alliance has heard the voice of educators, especially math teachers, in providing them tools in showing the relevancy in what they are teaching in class. “Get Real Math!” videos showcase how math is used in the real world, along with giving students awareness of manufacturing careers. 

One of the greatest contributions the Alliance has made in our region is changing the image of manufacturing careers. You may have seen the articles in the media spotlighting manufacturing career opportunities in a positive light. The Alliance’s All Stars magazine, which is in its eighth year, recognizes 12 individuals working in a variety of manufacturing fields including production, engineering and HR. More than 120,000 career magazines have been distributed to students, parents and job seekers. The online version of the magazine found on the Alliance’s website features video clips of each award winner talking about why they love their career. In an effort to promote manufacturing careers to 19- to 29-year-olds, the Alliance has embarked on an intensive social media campaign. The Alliance tweets three to five times each day career information and manufacturing news and keeps an active Facebook campaign.

The Alliance celebrates its 10-year anniversary June 6, 2016 at Lambeau Field. We will be reviewing the work that has been done and the partnerships made. But more importantly, we will be discussing the future. The Alliance will continue its focus on workforce development, improving the image of manufacturing and advancing collaboration with K-16 educators. In the next five years, the organization will also increase its outreach to parents. We will be replicating a study the Manufacturing Institute conducted about parents’ perceptions of manufacturing. The results will be used to develop messaging that will resonate with parents. The Alliance is uniquely positioned to make a major impact on enhancing the skill sets of the current workforce, with one in three New North manufacturers as members.

One of the training programs the Alliance developed is called, “Leadership Academy for Front-Line Production Workers.” This program enhances soft skills in key areas such as conflict resolution, teamwork, peer leadership, critical thinking skills and behavioral safety. Next, the Alliance will embark on enhancing machine operators by improving their mechanical aptitude in order to decrease the time a machine is down. In addition, the Alliance is focused on finding talent for members in promoting opportunities in the region as well as outside the New North.

Paul Rauscher is the CEO of EMT International and one of the founding members of the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance.