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027: Showcasing Manufacturing Workforce Initiatives For the Next Generation

Posted By Digital Enterprise Society, Wednesday, November 20, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, November 19, 2019

027: Showcasing Manufacturing Workforce Initiatives For the Next Generation


On this episode, Thom and Craig welcome Sascha Harrell, the Director of Education and Workforce Development for IN-MaC at Purdue University.  Sascha has joined the podcast to highlight the midwest workforce initiatives, which is working to create a stronger manufacturing ecosystem for the nation.  She explains why manufacturing careers are so important for the next generation, highlights the initiatives that are helping K-12 students gain exposure to manufacturing careers, and offers several action points for anyone who understands the importance of involving the next generation in Industry 4.0, starting today. 

 On today’s podcast, you will learn:

What Manufacturing Careers Look Like Today

  • The Midwest is experiencing a rebirth in manufacturing careers with an increased need for a wide variety of skills.

  • Manufacturing offers a wide variety of career options — for every one engineering position, there are several positions in payroll, nursing, accounting, safety and more.

  • There are consistently more manufacturing positions available than are being filled.  

How to Highlight the Need for Manufacturing Careers to the Next Generation 

  • Use age-appropriate language that students will understand when explaining the manufacturing processes. 

  • Be an effective influencer by exposing children to the variety of opportunities available for makers of products. 

  • 85% of manufacturing jobs only require a high school diploma, which avoids the debt incurred from the college path, and many positions offer on-the-job training.

  • Automation works as a supplement to manufacturing, but it isn’t going to take manufacturing jobs away from people. 

Companies Initiatives that Involve the Next Generation 

  • Companies currently offer work-based experiential learning opportunities, internships, and apprenticeship programs. 

  • IN-MaC partners with employers and students to pair a variety of studies with the needs within the industry.

  • Early exposure at the elementary school level includes opportunities with access to design innovation studios featuring additive manufacturing via 3D printing, as well as coding, robots and digitalization. 

  • Follow up on every opportunity your company is involved in and benchmark the success stories with facts on ROIs. 


Sascha Harrell is the director of education and workforce for Indiana Next Generation Manufacturing Competitiveness Center (IN-MaC), a team that develops and implements programs and services that enhance the talents and capabilities of Indiana’s present and future workforce by facilitating connections between educators and industry to catalyze the formation of near-term and long-term skills in a highly accessible manner.  

Sascha is a current graduate student -PhD at Purdue University in STEM education leadership. She is researching perceptions of manufacturing in K-12 and post-secondary education. She has a Master of Science in Education from Purdue University with an area of focus in workforce development and manufacturing skills in the 21st century and a Bachelor of Arts from Morehead State University. 

Tags:  Manufacturing  Next Gen Engineer  STEAM  STEM  Workforce Development 

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