The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute today announced that the U.S. Department of Labor is providing a grant to retrain people in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area who were unemployed or displaced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The “Connecting Talent to Careers Project” is intended to create a comprehensive national capability for talent identification and attraction for manufacturers nationwide.
The ARM Institute is leading the project, which is receiving $2.997 million from the Labor Department’s National Dislocated Worker Grant and $650,000 in non-federal funds.
“The COVID-19 pandemic hit manufacturers in an unexpected and unprecedented way in 2020 and 2021,” stated Lisa Masciantonio, chief workforce officer at the ARM Institute. “These disruptions revealed critical vulnerabilities in American supply chains, highlighted the benefits of innovative technologies that enhance worker productivity and safety, and brought into focus the advantage of transitioning workers from unstable and low-skill service sector jobs into high-skill roles in advanced manufacturing.”
The Pittsburgh-based organization is a public-private partnership dedicated to strengthening the U.S. industrial base and securing manufacturing resiliency through robotics and workforce development.
Grant to address immediate skills shortage
“While the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed some weaknesses in American manufacturing, the ARM Institute and our member consortium are prepared and eager to respond to the challenge of building a resilient manufacturing workforce,” said Masciantonio.
“Our approach, which is focused on skills development and job matching, addresses the worker displacement challenges caused by the pandemic and faced by those in advanced manufacturing,” she said. “The goal is to reskill and re-employ displaced workers into family-sustaining employment.”
The two-year grant is made available through the CAREER (Comprehensive and Accessible Reemployment through Equitable Employment Recovery) National Dislocated Worker Grants under the Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration.
The grant is also intended to encourage more people to obtain Industry 4.0 education and pursue careers in advanced manufacturing, with a focus on robotics.
The project team will deliver a rapid re-employment program, provide access to an e-learning training bundle for upskilling displaced workers into Robotics Technician and other technical jobs, and create an online platform for job matching and individual skill tracking in manufacturing. This work will be focused in the Tampa Bay area, but some elements, including the online job matching platform, will become national resources.
ARM Institute to work with educational partners
The ARM Institute will work with Tooling U-SME and AmSkills Inc. Tooling U-SME is a division of nonprofit SME and works with companies including more than half of Fortune 500 manufacturers, as well as 600 educational institutions across the U.S.
Tooling U-SME will use the grant to create a Robotics Technician eLearning track using existing courses and make them available at no cost for more than 500 trainees.
Building upon previous bootcamps funded by the ARM Institute through the U.S. Department of Defense, AmSkills will run manufacturing and career readiness bootcamps utilizing their mobile workshop to conduct these programs in historically marginalized communities in the Tampa Bay area, primarily Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, and Pinellas Counties.
“Tooling U-SME is excited to partner with the ARM Institute and AmSkills to address manufacturing talent development in the greater Tampa Bay area,” said Jeannine Kunz, vice president at Tooling U-SME. “We have helped develop manufacturing workforces across the country and look forward to a strong regional focus in building robotics technicians to enable manufacturers to adopt new technologies, grow their operations, and provide the local workforce with career possibilities that have real earning and growth potential.”
AmSkills is a Florida non-profit organization whose stated mission is to “transform lives and strengthen communities through workforce training and apprenticeships for youth, adults, veterans, and the economically disadvantaged.”
“Recruitment into the manufacturing industry is a nationwide problem, and we must implement more creative ways to attract new talent,” said Tom Mudano, president and CEO of AmSkills. “Bringing hands-on training to potential candidates in their neighborhoods opens many opportunities to attract people who never considered a manufacturing career before.”
“AmSkills Career Discovery Bootcamp utilizes a mobile workshop to travel to a variety of neighborhoods to set up temporary training centers, bringing real-world, hands-on training with guaranteed job interviews with multiple employers,” he added. “The program has had great success in the Tampa Bay Region, and we are excited to expand our program to more residents and employers with a goal of introducing this model to other communities.”
In addition, the ARM Institute will expand RoboticsCareer.org to include career management and job-matching capabilities.