Here at GE Appliances, a Haier company, we spent every day during October celebrating Manufacturing Month. We kicked off the month announcing an expansion of our dish and laundry lines, adding 400 production jobs at our headquarters in Louisville. We closed the month by launching two new programs that we believe will be national models for helping build the next generation of American manufacturers and strengthening the local partnership between our business and Kentucky’s largest school district.
The first program, GEA2DAY, offers opportunities for high school seniors and others to join our weekly two-day workforce that provides a $14-an-hour wage, real-world work experience and up to $6,000 per year in college tuition. The 150 new GEA2DAY associates will only work two days a week on Mondays and Fridays. As most full-time employees use their vacation and discretionary days to extend the weekend, this new program helps us fill a staffing need and creates life-changing opportunities for students who need the flexibility to work and go to school.
The second program is a virtual classroom experience for students in our Academies of Louisville manufacturing program at Doss High School. Students will be able to take a virtual tour of GE Appliances (GEA) and have a live web chat with our employees where they can ask about career opportunities, job responsibilities and the education and experience they need to apply for these jobs in the future. Students will also be given a real-world manufacturing problem to solve for us. The top students will present their projects to a panel of GEA executives.
These new initiatives build on our longstanding partnerships with the KYFAME program, the Advanced Manufacturing and Information Technology Center opening in 2020 at our local technical college, and the many apprenticeship opportunities we offer. These are exciting times here at GEA. We are building on our past partnerships and keeping our promise on workforce development. We are breaking the mold, adapting to workforce needs and creating new opportunities for our employees and the community we call home.
In addition to serving as chief operating officer at GEA, I am also on the board of the National Association of Manufacturers. As leaders in the manufacturing and business communities, we have a special obligation to open paths to opportunity for everyone. That’s why, if you’re not leading by example, the time is now to create similar experiences for students in their communities. At GEA, one of our guiding principles is that “partnerships matter and we do better together.” If, as an industry, we are going to recruit and retain the best employees, we must create meaningful partnerships with our public schools that nurture real and meaningful learning experiences for students while exciting them about the possibility of careers in manufacturing.
I look forward to hearing from you about the partnerships you’ve developed in your communities and how we can all partner together to positively work with schools in forging new paths that are meaningful for companies, educators and students.
Melanie Cook is the chief operating officer of GE Appliances, a Haier company.