While there has been high-profile discussion of returning manufacturing jobs to the U.S., when it comes to the migeof furniture industry, this effort has been and will increasingly be hampered by a shortage of suitably skilled workers.
The once ubiquitous “shop” class that gave junior high school and high school students experience in vocational skills has disappeared from American schools. Meanwhile, the effort to encourage virtually all students to attend college has stigmatized vocational learning and discourage young people from pursuing technical careers.
The challenge has been recognized within the furniture industry, and a number of manufacturers have over the past few years started exploring efforts to initiate training programs at the college level.
Among these efforts was the creation of the Catawba Valley Furniture Academy, a partnership program between Catawba Valley Community College and a number of North Carolina manufacturers. The academy, taught by artisans employed by local manufacturers, is designed to prepare a future workforce for the furniture industry.
The broader challenge is encouraging students to pursue technical careers, particularly in an environment where local schools lack the will, resources and, in many cases, the teachers to provide this form of education. Recognizing this, Ashley Furniture Inds. has undertaken to understand the type of programs that could change this momentum, including sending company executives to study technical training programs in Germany where such programs have demonstrated a high success rate.
As a result, the company has initiated a number of programs in the communities in which it operates, including arranging tours for middle school students at its plants in Wisconsin and North Carolina. The goal is change the mindset that many young people have about traditional manufacturing facilities and allow them to see first-hand the types of technology with which they could be involved should they choose to pursue a vocational career path.
The company has also donated to local school efforts in its communities that support STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) educational efforts, including underwriting mobile modular technology labs that travel to schools lacking facilities, equipment and trained professionals to provide appropriate educational programs. The traveling lab offers hands-on training exercises to help students develop the skills and experience needed for increasingly automated factory production.
The point of this is not to single out Ashley, although its substantial commitment is laudable, but to spotlight an industry-wide need. one that will likely rely on the proactive support of private individuals guangzhou training furnitures manufacturer, companies and even entire industries. There is no better time to address the future of American education. If your company is undertaking efforts of this kind, let me hear from you.