Free Program Provides Students a Year of Manufacturing Experience in Just One Course

By January 25, 2019Shopfloor Main

The manufacturing industry has been doing well in recent years, yet it also faces a workforce crisis. Increasingly, manufacturers cite the lack of enough skilled workers as their main concern facing their businesses, and this threatens not just the full potential of one industry but of our entire economy.  

At the Manufacturing Institute—the social impact and workforce arm of the National Association of Manufacturers—we are working hard to solve this challenge through a range of workforce initiatives that focus on everything from getting kids interested in manufacturing careers to helping upskill workers to encouraging lifelong learning. But we’re not alone in this effort. Many other promising workforce initiatives continue to blossom across the country.  

One such program is ManuFirstSCManuFirstSC provides local South Carolinians with the equivalent of one year of manufacturing experience—all in a 62-hour course—to prepare these men and women for jobs immediately after graduation. The program leverages the resources of local governments and partners with a technical college in the area to offer residents of Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties a free 62-hour course in lean manufacturing and safety training.  

Whether someone is new to the workforce and looking to gain prerequisite experience or a lifelong learner hoping to transition into an expanding industry, ManuFirstSC is a great choice because it offers its graduates the skills they’ll need to immediately fill in-demand manufacturing jobs. 

This program was originally developed to train employees for manufacturing jobs with Volvo Cars USA, which has hired more than 30 program graduates since opening its new factory in the area in September. Now, by expanding the program to surrounding areas and including other manufacturers, like Mercedes-Benz Vans LLC, ManuFirstSC is expanding its reach to help build the workforce to meet the needs of the region’s growing and changing economy.   

This is just the kind of creativity and synchronized partnership between all parties that will continue to be needed if we want to expand more career opportunities and, ultimately, triumph over the workforce crisis.  

Building our workforce is both a challenge and an opportunity for manufacturers. By working together to expand people’s understanding of the possibilities within the industry and providing opportunities for professional development, we can create the workforce our businesses and communities need to grow—and ManuFirstSC is a great example of the kind of initiatives that will help get us there. 

Carolyn Lee

Carolyn Lee

Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute at The Manufacturing Institute
Carolyn Lee is Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute, the non-profit affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the nation’s largest industrial trade association. Carolyn drives an agenda focused on improving the manufacturing industry through its three centers: the Center for the American Workforce, the Center for Manufacturing Research, and the Center for Best Practices.

In her role, Carolyn leads the Institute’s workforce efforts to close the skills gap and inspire all Americans to enter the U.S. manufacturing workforce, focusing on women, youth, and veterans. Carolyn steers the Institute’s initiatives and programs to educate the public on manufacturing careers, improve the quality of manufacturing education, engage, develop and retain key members of the workforce, and identify and document best practices. In addition, Carolyn drives the agenda for the Center for Manufacturing Research, which partners with leading consulting firms in the country. The Institute studies the critical issues facing manufacturing and then applies that research to develop and identify solutions that are implemented by companies, schools, governments, and organizations across the country.

Prior to joining the Institute, Carolyn was Senior Director of Tax Policy at the NAM beginning in 2011, where she was responsible for key portions of the NAM’s tax portfolio representing the manufacturing community on Capitol Hill and in the business community and working closely with the NAM membership. She served as the Director of Legislative and Government Affairs at the Telecommunications Industry Association, Manager of State and Federal Government Affairs for 3M Company, and in various positions on Capitol Hill including as Legislative Director for former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and as a senior legislative staff member for former U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY).

Carolyn is a graduate of Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania graduating with a B.A. in Political Science. She resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and three children.
Carolyn Lee

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