IT WAS JUST A SMALL COMMENT ABOUT a broader talent pool from Lindquist Machine Corp. President and CEO Mark Kaiser inside of a larger interview, but we sensed right away he might be on to something.
During an interview at Manufacturing First, Kaiser was discussing the sector’s labor challenges and said it was time for companies to start looking deeper into the labor pool for non-traditional sources for workers, including the state’s prison population.
That same day, Insight Staff Reporter Jessica Thiel attended a session where are presentative from Moraine Park Technical College discussed its manufacturing skills boot camps, whose reach include — you guessed it — former prison inmates seeking the skills to give themselves new opportunities for success.
Coincidental? Perhaps. But we were pretty sure there was more to it. And there is.
For this month’s cover story (starting on page 8), Thiel spent time with Alex Rocha, who found the boot camp program after serving a two-year sentence at the Oshkosh Correctional Institution, and leveraged the program at Moraine Park to gain the skills he needed for a better future.
He’s already completed the welding program and an internship experience at Mayville Engineering Co.
Rocha is now pursuing a technical diploma in welding and has big plans for his future. No doubt he will make a great addition to a regional manufacturer’s workforce. It’s one of those situations where all sides come out a winner.
We need a lot more of those.
For the past few years, one of the top concerns expressed in the NEW Manufacturing Alliance’s Manufacturing Vitality Index has been finding the necessary talent to continue the sector’s growth. This year is no different, and to remain competitive, the sector must start thinking creatively and tapping into people like Rocha and others emerging from these boot camp programs.
For a recap of this year’s Vitality Index, see By the Numbers on page 26.
When it comes to being competitive, we do that quite well in our region. As this month’s Global story on exports shows, Northeast Wisconsin was the only region in the state to see net growth in its exports in2016 (page 20). We helped the state get off to a good start in 2017 — up through the first nine months —and gains for the region are expected when the final2017 numbers are in.
Part of our success in international markets is due to the innovation of our regional manufacturers. We at Insight Publications honor that innovation every year with our annual Insight Innovation awards.
Nominations are open for deserving companies, and we encourage you to let us know the great things your companies are doing. The application deadline is Feb. 16. See our website for details.