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Siemens and MassMEP Partner to Provide Critical Skills for Manufacturing Workforce of the Future

On April 16, 2014, an event was held at the Hanover Theater in Worcester to announce in-kind grant awards worth over $720 million. This exceptional gift was presented to the Massachusetts education system by Siemens Corporation. The funds will equip area schools with sophisticated training software in support of developing a workforce for the Next Generation Manufacturers in the state.

The announcement was made as Siemens' representatives, politicians, educators, and business people gathered for The Atlantic magazine's forum on manufacturing. The event was part of the magazine's "Building the Future" series, which included panel discussions and commentary from Governor Duval Patrick and U.S. Rep. James McGovern.

Chuck Grindstaff, CEO, Siemens PLM Software, US Rep. James McGovern, and Eric Siegel, President & CEO, Siemens USA
Chuck Grindstaff, CEO, Siemens PLM Software, US Rep. James McGovern, and Eric Siegel, President & CEO, Siemens USA

Siemens Corporation is a subsidiary of Siemens AG, a global employer of 362,000 employees in 190 countries, 52,000 of which are in the US and Puerto Rico. They provide cutting edge, high quality products, solutions, and service in electronic and electrical engineering to industry, energy, healthcare, infrastructure, & cities for over more than 165 years.

Confronting the Shortage of Skilled CNC Operators
The 500+ employees in Siemens Metal Technologies' Worcester facility make them one of the largest manufacturing operations in Massachusetts. The company had been successful at managing their workforce needs in-house but found their ability to recruit new employees with the skill sets required for their sophisticated CNC machining operations was diminishing. As manufacturing in the region began to stabilize, the impact of the retirement of a generation of skilled machinists was becoming more apparent. Qualified candidates couldn't be found. In order to recruit and train a number of new employees to meet their needs, Siemens reached out to the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP) for assistance. 

Jack Healy, MassMEP
Jack Healy, MassMEP

MassMEP worked on a project to provide Siemens with a source for new workers with the appropriate skills to fulfill their needs. This produced 10 specially trained CNC operators whose skills integrated into Siemens' operations; they became new employees of the company. An innovative, new program of specially designed training with a strong, focused curriculum had begun. The goal was to provide solutions to the critical skills challenge haunting Massachusetts' manufacturers.  

Siemens satisfactory experience with the advanced CNC training and relationship with MassMEP's Workforce Development team resulted in Siemens becoming a founding member of the Manufacturing Advancement Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative – MACWIC – and a strong advocate for the training programs that have been so successful for their company.

Siemens PLM software in use at WPI
Siemens PLM software in use at WPI

Creating Educational Pathways
As the MACWIC grew in manufacturer membership, MassMEP's Workforce team partnered with area Chambers of Commerce, Workforce Investment Bureaus, as well as career centers, technical high schools, colleges, and universities throughout Massachusetts for a variety of projects and events to increase outreach and give more individuals the opportunity to benefit from the training programs. MassMEP knew that involving the schools would greatly increase their training capacity and capabilities. They shared Siemens' fondness for the concept of creating educational pathways from high school to college to the workforce, and knew this network was crucial to what they hoped to achieve.  

Siemens told MassMEP of their wish to provide high technology PLM software to the Massachusetts education system to enhance their machining or manufacturing technology curriculum. PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) software allows companies to manage the entire lifecycle of a product efficiently and cost-effectively, from concept to design and manufacture, through service and ultimately disposal.  The software integrates computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), computer-aided engineering (CAE), product data management (PDM), and digital manufacturing. It is used by companies around the world for the design and manufacture of their products.

Siemens could provide the software if MassMEP would help deploy the training to use it.

"Manufacturing is the most sophisticated, forward-looking, and innovative business function in the world today and we need to let students, parents, and administrators know what these jobs look like and what students need to learn in order to get them. This partnership can serve as an economic catalyst for the region, the state and the country."  -- Eric Spiegel, President and CEO, Siemens USA

The relationship between MassMEP and Siemens, and the shared desire to work with Massachusetts' schools, precipitated the tremendous in kind gift of $726,522,808 to help champion the training and education of a skilled workforce to meet the needs of manufacturers in the state.

Technical high schools, community colleges and universities were recruited to apply for Siemens PLM Software grant.  Siemens made their selections based on criteria like the commitment to use the software and ability to provide time and faculty support. Recipients to date include: Mount Wachusett Community College, Northern Essex Community College, Mass Bay Community College, Fitchburg State University, Quinsigamond Community College, Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School, Berkshire Community College/Taconic High School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Assabet Valley Regional Senior High School, Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational High School, Worcester Technical High School, Massasoit Community College, and Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School.

These schools will be able to incorporate the same world-class technology used globally by hundreds of thousands of manufacturers to enhance their curriculum and allow students to develop the advanced skills sought after in well paying manufacturing related careers. Without the grant, access to this software would have been financially unattainable. Worcester Vocational Technical High School's 60 seats, for example, have a value of $72 million. 

"The manufacturing industry in America is on the rise and is being transformed by a software revolution that is enhancing productivity, increasing efficiency, and speeding time to market. This revolution requires a highly-trained workforce. Thanks to support of MassMEP, MACWIC, and Siemens, Worcester, Massachusetts schools will integrate world-class PLM technology into their curriculum so that students are even better prepared for high quality manufacturing jobs." -- Chuck Grindstaff, CEO Siemens PML Software Division

This integral partnership between educational resources, manufacturers, and students is an important step toward answering the employment needs of our manufacturing community. Exposure to this PLM software and a simple visit to Siemens web site should help open the eyes of parents and students to the value and vastness of career opportunities in manufacturing related industries, where the upcoming shortage of skilled workers is very real as is the potential for great paying careers.

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