Small Business
Business INSIGHTS e-News for Manufacturers
Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Talent

About the Author

Dr. Judith Crocker

Director, Education & Training

  • 30+ years of experience in adult and continuing education, including facilitating the implementation of training programs in the workplace in the public and private sectors, and serving on local, state and national committees dealing with adult education, welfare reform and workforce education
  • Previously Director of Corporate and Community Outreach Services, Executive Director of Workforce Development, Lorain County Community College
  • At Cleveland City Schools, established the first manufacturing laboratory to train secondary and adult students in basic manufacturing-related skills
  • Frequent speaker, presenter and trainer at state and regional adult education conferences
  • Member, American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, University Continuing Education Association, Association for Career and Technical Education, Greater Cleveland Adult Education Council
  • Bachelor of Education, University of Toledo; Master and Doctor of Education, University of Utah

Attracting and Retaining Manufacturing Talent

by Dr. Judith Crocker

Manufacturers consistently identify workforce issues as one of their top three priorities. Companies, regardless of size, recognize that a highly skilled, qualified workforce is critical to their success.

Whether manufacturers are seeking to develop new products, enter new markets or improve overall productivity, workforce is key to remaining competitive and achieving goals. Companies that are successful in attracting and retaining talented people are those that realize they must be proactive in developing a workforce solution.

Fewer young people are choosing manufacturing careers, largely because they aren't aware of the opportunities or educational requirements. Smart manufacturers are actively engaging with educational institutions in their communities, informing students, teachers, guidance counselors and parents about the many stable, well-paying jobs available. These manufacturers send young scientists, engineers, technicians and machine operators to visit local classrooms and talk with students from middle school up about their work.

Students, teachers and parents are also invited to open houses to tour plants and facilities they likely drive by on a daily basis. They are introduced to young professionals at these facilities and see for themselves what takes place there.

Many manufacturers are also sponsoring teams for the FIRST Robotics or RoboBot competitions, giving students valuable hands-on experience and opportunities to work as team members with engineers, technicians and scientists to solve technical challenges.

Shadowing programs often lead to summer work-based learning experiences and part-time employment during the school year for promising high-school students. The students learn about the company's culture, products, processes and customers, and can contribute to the overall company goals. Many students who begin as part-time workers in high school often progress to consistently higher company positions, becoming supervisors, managers and executives.

October 4, National Manufacturing Day, would be an ideal time for you to start a proactive campaign to begin building your workforce of the future by sponsoring a local community event. For more information, and to see what other companies are doing in your area for National Manufacturing Day, visit:

Since 1984, Cleveland, Ohio-based MAGNET - the Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network - has assisted thousands of manufacturers through its Edison Technology Center programs, Manufacturing Extension Partnership services and business incubation efforts. MAGNET is a "one-stop shop" for manufacturers and entrepreneurs seeking the resources to become or remain globally competitive. For more information, visit or call Linda Barita at 216-391-7766.

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