The widening skills gap in advanced manufacturing positions has demonstrated that career outreach is now critical to recruiting the next generation of machinists, engineers, welders, and designers. The high tuition rates of two- and four-year colleges notwithstanding, many students face high costs of schooling even when applying to vocational schools, community colleges, and technical degree programs.
Fortunately, state and federal governments, private businesses, and professional organizations are performing more outreach than ever to help students get the money they need to pay for education and training in manufacturing and machining programs.
One of the standard methods many students use to pay for school is by applying for federal student aid, which encompasses a range of grants and government-backed loans. These loans are tailored to student needs and are repayable over an extended time period. To qualify, students must demonstrate need and acceptance to an accredited degree program.
Many machining professional organizations offer financial aid to students. These are traditional scholarships often based on essays or demonstration of merit. For instance, The National Manufacturing Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), has teamed with the University of Phoenix to offer scholarships to the university’s machining and manufacturing programs. Applicants must demonstrate a history of manufacturing work or training and agree to be spokespeople for national manufacturing initiatives.
In addition, professional organizations and private companies often help sponsor student machining competitions with cash or scholarship awards, such as the contest in Indiana that IMT Machining Journal wrote about. These competitions allow students to demonstrate skills they’ve learned in high school shop classes while working with machine tools and CNC programming. These scholarships can often prove very valuable to students; Monroe Community College (MCC), in Rochester, N.Y., for example, awards its top finisher with a full scholarship for one semester to its Precision Machining Program.
One national organization that tests students’ machining skills for the chance to win scholarships is SkillsUSA, a career organization that promotes student learning and training in many professional sectors. SkillsUSA co-sponsors regional competitions around the country that feed its National Leadership and Skills Conference, which awards top-flight competitors with scholarships.
IMT Machining Journal parent company ThomasNet now is doing its part to help industry fight the skills gap, announcing the ThomasNet North American Manufacturing Scholarship program, which will grant up to 30 students with an interest in manufacturing careers with a $1,000 scholarship each. (Full press release can be found here.)
Interested U.S. high school senior and Canadian secondary students who plan to major in engineering or supply chain management/business operations or learn a skilled trade can find out more and apply directly before July 1 at the scholarship program website, www.ThomasNetScholarship.com. Students must be pursuing studies at two- or four-year colleges or vocational-technical schools.
IMT Machining Journal readers can show support for the new scholarship program by signing up for at least one free IMT e-newsletter, as ThomasNet will make a contribution to the program (up to $30,000) with each new subscription. “We hope to have parents, educators, and the manufacturing community join us in encouraging young students to transform their ingenuity and passion into a career in this exciting industry,” said Eileen Markowitz, president of ThomasNet.