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Youth Grants for High Performance Manufacturing

The boss was angry, understandably so, thought Terry. The numbers from the last shift were terrible. The reject rate was off the chart. WIP was high; shipments were not keeping up with orders; and, not surprisingly, TimeWise™ Inc. had once again lost money.

“We need to make changes” said the boss. “You all know Mr. Smith, our lean manufacturing consultant.” He’s going to work with you to turn things around. “OK,” said Mr. Smith to the assembled workers, “I’d like to hear your thoughts on what went wrong and how we can improve production.”

Ideas and suggestions were enthusiastically volunteered. The suggestions led to dramatic improvement and put the company back into profitability.

While the above scenario is increasingly common in many workplaces, you would probably be surprised to learn that “Terry” and his fellow “workers” are actually young adults studying to earn their high school equivalency degree (GED), and that TimeWise™ Inc., is part of a lean manufacturing simulation conducted by the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MassMEP).

Careers in High Performance Manufacturing
The Manufacturing Advancement Center (MAC), with funding from the Central Mass Regional Employment Board (REB), has partnered with the MassMEP and local youth programs operated by You Inc, TRA Inc., and the Worcester Community Action Council to encourage young adults to consider a career in high performance manufacturing. Since 2000, the MAC has worked with hundreds of small and medium-sized manufacturers to strengthen their world-class competitiveness.

Over the years, companies have repeatedly described their difficulty in recruiting new employees that could be trained to fill skilled production positions. In response, the MAC collaborated with the REB, MassMEP, and agencies serving the unemployed and underemployed, to develop a program that:

  • Introduces young adults to career opportunities in manufacturing,
  • Increases awareness regarding the different skills that employers require of new employees e.g. literacy, ability to learn, problem solving, ability to work as a team, etc.

The program is now in its third year and has evolved to include a Problem Solving Workshop; tours of local manufacturers, such as Checkerboard, Stonebridge, and Continental Consolidated, that exemplify the application of lean manufacturing principles; a Job Interview workshop delivered by HR professionals recruited by the Worcester Human Resources Association; and the TimeWise™ lean manufacturing simulation.

The TimeWise™ simulation is delivered by one of MassMEP’s Project Managers and follows the format used to introduce production employees and executives to the principles of lean manufacturing. Participants produce a working clock, over three production shifts of 15 minutes each, in a simulated factory environment. After each shift, participants review what needs to be improved and are introduced to lean manufacturing principles, tools, and methodologies. MassMEP’s professional staff are consistently impressed by the enthusiasm and creativity displayed by the students in diagnosing and solving production problems.

To learn more about the program, or to discuss hosting a tour, contact Kathie Mahoney at 508-831-7020 or .


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