Popularity grows for manufacturing job-shadow program

A manufacturing job-shadow program for North Bay high school students is picking up momentum in its third year.

[caption id="attachment_88824" align="alignright" width="360"] Students from Petaluma High School visit Petaluma's Raydiance as part of 101MFG's job shadow program in 2013 (photo courtesy 101MFG)[/caption]

Launched and coordinated by 101MFG, a Santa Rosa-based trade group focused on boosting California's manufacturing sector, the program is expecting up to 300 participants this year. It is a 50 percent increase from 2013, and more than six times the enrollment of two years ago.

That growth is another indicator of the increasing efforts among precision manufacturers to bolster their pipeline of talent, with the looming retirement of senior machinists creating intense demand for qualified recruits, said Dick Herman, president of 101MFG.     

"Much of that demand is a result of the wave of baby boomers retiring from the workforce. And with the acceleration of technical, automation and precision Q.C. skills needed to be competitive in a global market, our manufacturers have to be more involved in training and outreach to today's best students than they have been in past years," he said.

The program was created largely to pool the resources of small-to-mid-size manufacturers without formal internships and other targeted methods of cultivating new talent.     

"If you're big enough, you tend to have your own outreach. This program helps to level the playing field," Mr. Herman said.

Yet more large companies with local manufacturing operations have expressed an interest this year, highlighting an increasingly widespread sentiment that companies must step up their recruitment and talent development efforts.

Among those larger participating employers is Medtronic, a Minneapolis-based medical device company whose Santa Rosa-based cardiovascular division employs around 1,000 individuals.

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