New England has always been synonymous with the word “revolutionary”. Known as birthplace of the American Revolution, New England was home and hub to some of the most influential founding Fathers, a place with a storied history, steeped in tales of courage, conviction and ideas that dared to fly in the face of convention.
Fast forward to the next century – spurred on by a keen realization that the country must quickly gain a strong economic foothold in order to survive, New England became the birthplace of America’s Industrial Revolution.
Today, we are in the midst of another revolution.
This time a globally recognized Advanced Manufacturing initiative, coined “Industry 4.0”. New England once again is positioned as a hub for the manufacturing development of innovative products and groundbreaking production methods. (Link to quote from Boston Globe Article) Strong leadership and grant initiatives are enriching our education programs laying the foundation for future growth in manufacturing. Despite this, the skills-gap looms as a sobering issue, which threatens to inhibit the rapid growth in our manufacturing sector necessary to keep us competitive in the global marketplace.
The heartening news? That revolutionary mindset at the heart of meaningful industrial reformation is still is thriving here in New England, and with it the desire to be at the forefront of technological change. While riding the wave of the future is the way to go technology-wise, circling back to a few historical concepts will go a long way to closing the dreaded skills-gap:
200 years ago – Paul Revere
Well-known patriot Paul Revere, was more notably a master craftsman and industry leader of his time. Along with being a skilled silversmith, casting the first large scale bells made in America, he was an innovative manufacturist. Revere produced the first rolled copper sheets in the US. becoming a major supplier of copper for the US Navy fleet which included nails, bolts, spikes and sheathing.
Trained as an apprentice to a silversmith himself, Revere “paid it forward” employing many apprentices himself. The concept of educating the next generation in skilled craftsmanship was understood to benefit and future-proof industry. By employing apprentices, journeymen did their part to ensure that US manufacturing wouldn’t stagnate. Case in point: One of Revere’s apprentices, William Cooper Hunneman, went on to start a company that manufactured the finest hand-pumped fire engines of the time.
Just as education in the 1600’s focused on physical skills, educators are circling back to similar ideas about teaching life-ready skills. Realizing employers want to see evidence of what new workers can do, rather than what they profess to know, CTE programs in New England are being equipped as advanced manufacturing training grounds, such as at Diman Regional Vocational Technical School. Outfitted with industry-recognized manufacturing equipment, these labs include cutting edge technology such as production 3D printers, CNC machines, and engineering labs like PLC & robotics training modules.
Conversely, industry & government leaders in New England are realizing the importance of growing apprenticeship opportunities for area students in efforts order to fill the skills-gap. Apprenticeship initiatives in Massachusetts paired with the investment of Skills Capital grants for CTE schools are enabling students to learn valuable real-world skills preparing them for high paying advanced manufacturing positions.
How are these initiatives helping your school pave new ways to career readiness for students? We’d love to hear!