Grant Focuses Resources on Developing Skilled Manufacturing Workers from Those Unemployed by the COVID-19 Pandemic
October 20, 2021 Pittsburgh, PA – The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute, a Department of Defense Manufacturing Innovation Institute, has announced that the Department of Labor (DoL) is providing a grant to the Institute to meet the immediate needs of unemployed and displaced workers in the Tampa Bay, Florida region and create a comprehensive national capability for talent identification and attraction for manufacturers nationwide. The ARM Institute-led project, “Connecting Talent to Careers”, is receiving funding from the Department of Labor’s National Dislocated Worker Grant in the amount of $2.997 million and is leveraging $650,000 of additional non-federal funds.
The ARM Institute is the nation’s leading collaborative in robotics and workforce innovation, working at the confluence of industry, government, and academia. Structured as a public-private partnership, the ARM Institute and its member organizations accelerate robotic technologies and education solutions to strengthen the U.S. industrial base and secure U.S. manufacturing resiliency.
The two-year grant is made available through the CAREER (Comprehensive and Accessible Reemployment through Equitable Employment Recovery) National Dislocated Worker Grants, Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. The grant will help address the immediate shortage challenge of skilled labor in manufacturing, as exposed by the pandemic, as well as expand a national resource designed to encourage more people to obtain Industry 4.0 education and pursue careers in advanced manufacturing, with a focus on robotics.
This 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.
Specifically, the grant will be used by Tooling U-SME to create a Robotics Technician eLearning track utilizing existing courses and make them available at no cost for over 500 trainees. Building upon previous bootcamps funded by the ARM Institute through the 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, aimed at employing displaced and disadvantaged workers. In addition, the ARM Institute will expand its popular RoboticsCareer.org national resource to include career management and job matching capabilities.
“The COVID-19 pandemic hit manufacturers in an unexpected and unprecedented way in 2020 and 2021. 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,” stated Lisa Masciantonio, ARM Institute Chief Workforce Officer.
Added Ms. Masciantonio, “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. 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. The goal is to reskill and reemploy displaced workers into family-sustaining employment.”
“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, 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.”
Tom Mudano, President & CEO of AmSkills, Inc., a non-profit organization in Florida with a mission of transforming lives and strengthening communities through manufacturing workforce training and apprenticeships, said “Recruitment into the manufacturing industry is a nationwide problem and we must implement more creative ways to attract new talent. 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. 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.”
ABOUT THE ARM INSTITUTE
The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute is a Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense under Agreement Number W911NF-17-3-0004, and is part of the Manufacturing USA® network. The ARM Institute leverages a unique, robust, and diverse ecosystem of 300+ consortium members and partners across industry, academia, and government to make robotics, autonomy, and artificial intelligence more accessible to U.S. manufacturers large and small, train and empower the manufacturing workforce, strengthen our economy and global competitiveness, and elevate national security and resilience. Based in Pittsburgh, PA since 2017, the ARM Institute is leading the way to a future where people & robots work together to respond to our nation’s greatest challenges and to produce the world’s most desired products. For more information, visit www.arminstitute.org and follow the ARM Institute on LinkedIn and Twitter
ABOUT TOOLING U-SME
Tooling U-SME delivers versatile, competency-based learning and development solutions to the manufacturing community, working with thousands of companies, including more than half of all Fortune 500® manufacturers, as well as 600 educational institutions across the country. Tooling U-SME partners with customers to build high performers who help their companies drive quality, profitability, productivity, innovation, and employee satisfaction. Working directly with hundreds of high schools, community and technical colleges, and universities, Tooling U-SME can help prepare the next-generation workforce by providing industry-driven curriculum. A division of SME, a nonprofit that connects all those who are passionate about making things that improve our world, Tooling U-SME can be found at www.toolingu.com, Facebook (www.facebook.com/toolingu) Twitter (www.twitter.comtollingu).
ABOUT AMSKILLS, INC.
AmSkills was formed by Pinellas, Pasco, and Hernando Counties as an economic development and workforce training initiative in November 2014. AmSkills, Inc. was established as a 501(c)3 organization in 2017 with a mission to ‘Transform Lives and Strengthen Communities through Workforce Training and Apprenticeship for Youth, Adults, Veterans, and the Economically Disadvantaged’. AmSkills has High School Pre-Apprenticeship, Adult Pre-Apprenticeship, and Apprenticeship Program for manufacturing occupations registered with the Florida Department of Education. The organization has created a new model which first focuses on recruitment into the industry using the AmSkills Mobile Workshop, by conducting AmSkills Career Discovery Bootcamps, which is a 2-week program designed to assist the candidate in determining the right career path, and is used as a vetting process for the employers to help them hire quality candidates. Candidates who complete the 2-week Bootcamp receive guaranteed job interviews with multiple employers. After just over one year of launching this program, it has fast become one of the most innovative recruitment methods into the Manufacturing and related industries in the Tampa Bay region. For more information, please visit www.Amskills.org.