Northeast Metro Business VHEDC 2018 - Page 41

nearly $5,000 toward the Gen Z Connection program, which included a manufacturing camp at St. Paul College and a closing ceremony where the students gave formal presentations about their learning experiences before all partners and their families. At Du Fresne Manufacturing, in Vadnais Heights, students learned about blueprint reading, grinding techniques and short- cut math formulas. At Mold Craft, in Willernie, students learned about milling electrodes, 3D CAD design and precision measurement. At The Specialty Mfg. Co., in White Bear Township, students learned about wire electrical discharge machining (wire EDM), production and assembly. And, at SCHWING America, in White Bear Township, students learned about sandblasting, truck preparation and inspection. Steve Moeller, Director of Manufacturing at The Specialty Mfg. Co., says, “The Baby Boomers are retiring at 10,000 people per day and many manufacturing companies are ‘reshoring’ business from overseas because we here – in the U.S. – are again competitive. But businesses like mine and my business partners’ have discovered they cannot find people to fill the skilled jobs. There are 600,000-plus technical jobs that remain unfilled in the U.S. today, and this is preventing companies from expanding. By getting more parents, educators and students interested, enrolled and graduated with two-year technical degrees, the more our manufacturing companies can successfully grow.” “We MUST make parents, educators and students aware at a very early age about skilled jobs such as welding, machining, sheet metal, stamping, plastic injection molding, etc. Technical classes need to be re-introduced into our high schools to give students an earlier opportunity to discover their life interests. These skilled jobs pay a livable wage and lead to promotions into management or engineering. A four-year college degree will cost a minimum of $70,000, and a two-year technical degree will cost $12,000 to $15,000 and will pay a livable wage,” says Steve Moeller, Director of Manufacturing at The Specialty Mfg. Co. In November 2017, Moeller and his partners -- Joy Vander Heiden of SCHWING America; Jim Stephan of Du Fresne Manufacturing; and Justin McPhee of Mold Craft – were presented the VHEDC Partnership Award at the Annual Business Awards ceremony by Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry Deputy Commissioner Jessica Looman and White Bear Lake Area Schools Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak. Looman said, “We are so excited to be able to partner with all of you to develop this kind of program. You are setting an example for others statewide who are trying to replicate this program.” Jeremy Kerg, White Bear Lake Area Schools Career Pathway Navigator for Manufacturing and the new Construction Pathway, says, “In a lot of ways, our established Manufacturing Pathway program is the recipe/the framework we’re using for the other evolving pathways. Three of our 2017 Gen Z students, seniors this year, have been great spokesmen for the program. Many students have already signed up for 2018 Gen Z internships. VHEDC’s Ling Becker and I are formalizing plans for eight internships with eight manufacturing firms. There was so much great work that was done last summer!” (2017 Gen Z intern Aaron Purdham is currently enrolled at St. Paul College studying electromechanical systems.) When presenting the request for the Gen Z Connection program funding to the VHEDC Board of Directors in May 2017, VHEDC Executive Director Ling Becker said, “I believe we have a great opportunity to bring a lot of hard work past the finish line. The Board is committed to funding projects that benefit the economic vitality of the community, and this entire program is true to our values in that it is collaborative, innovative and responsive to the workforce needs we are hearing from our businesses.” And, upon receiving the EDAM Partnership Award to VHEDC in January 2018, Becker stated “We accept this award proudly on behalf of our partners. Without them, this project would not exist. This award truly represents what it means to be a community.” Ryan Benert Charlie Rupprecht Aaron Purdham (right) Karl Stein vhedc.com 41