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Business INSIGHTS e-News for Manufacturers
A New Message About Degrees

About the Author

Fred Botterbusch, MANTEC

Brad James

Service Delivery Manager
Alabama Technology Network

www.atn.org

  • 25 years of manufacturing and engineering experience, focused in Production Management, Process Improvement and Lean
  • Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering, University of Alabama

A New Message About Degrees

by Brad James
Alabama Technology Network

There are many obstacles facing manufacturing when it comes time to hire new employees. The image of manufacturing, family work experiences and generational differences rank high on the list. One of the hardest issues to resolve is rooted in many parents' goals for their children. All parents want their children to be successful in life and to do better than they did. Coming from a blue-collar family, I remember that all of my relatives wanted me to take advantage of the opportunity I was given to obtain a four-year college degree -- conventional wisdom being that a bachelor's degree would lead to a better job and a more secure future.

Many employers have noted an interesting trend lately: increasing numbers of candidates with bachelor's degrees applying for entry-level positions. During a recent clerical position search, over half of the applicants had four-year degrees; two had master's degrees. This is just one of many illustrations of an outdated notion. Today, many entry-level manufacturing jobs provide a better lifestyle than positions requiring a bachelor's degree and are much more readily available.

Most jobs in manufacturing require some type of postsecondary training. But employers who are successful at attracting and retaining a talented workforce have overcome the historical view of an associate's degree or certificate program. Successful employers have educated not only future potential employees but also their families about the opportunities that exist and can be attained at a much faster rate and much lower costs. Using existing employees that are the peers of younger applicants to demonstrate the tangible benefits have proven to be very persuasive.

It is a new message that needs to be told.

Alabama Technology Network 
The Alabama Technology Network (ATN) is a part of the Alabama Community College System and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. ATN's team of experts helps fill the needs of industry and business through innovative, sustainable, cost-effective solutions. ATN employees conduct detailed needs assessments, outline potential solutions based on the results and then provide technical assistance to help businesses. ATN links industries and businesses with resources from its network of universities, colleges, businesses and government agencies to deliver the training businesses need to be more efficient, productive and competitive. ATN locations are strategically located throughout the state to provide local points of contact for better assistance. For additional information, call 1-877-428-6457 or email atninfo@atn.org.

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