New group seeks to place workers in local manufacturing jobs
By Mark Anderson Staff Writer, Sacramento Business Journal
The research and advocacy group Valley Vision has launched the Sacramento Valley Manufacturing Initiative to provide more workers for local manufacturers.
The initiative will work with local high schools, community colleges and employment groups to create interest among workers for jobs in manufacturing, said Kevin McGrew, director of quality management with Siemens’ Mobility division. Siemens’ plant in South Sacramento employs more than 1,200 people who build locomotives, rail cars and light rail trains.
His shop is constantly looking for employees, he said. “Business is good in manufacturing in Sacramento. We need employees.”
Valley Vision and local manufacturers have been working to develop the Sacramento Valley Manufacturing Initiative for two years.
“We realized we need to develop the next crop of employees,” McGrew said.
The initiative is meant to get the word out in the community that manufacturing jobs are a viable career option. Many young people don’t even consider it because they are unaware of manufacturing, McGrew said. “Millennials in many cases have never had anyone in their household who worked in manufacturing.”
The initiative is also intended to expand the local workforce, so it can replace a wave of soon-to-be retiring workers, McGrew said. Part of the outreach will include some manufacturers offering tours to high school shop teachers or their classes.
“We need to open our doors and let them see the shop floors,” McGrew said.
So far, 20 manufacturing companies in the region are dues-paying members of the Sacramento Valley Manufacturing Initiative. Along with Siemens Mobility, those include undersea vessel manufacturer Schilling Robotics in Davis and portable machine tool manufacturer Tri Tool Inc. in Rancho Cordova.
The Sacramento Valley Manufacturing Initiative was launched under the umbrella of Valley Vision, which will coordinate its accounting, organization and marketing.
Aside from setting up tours for shop teachers and students, the initiative is putting together a list of industry experts to visit local schools and make presentations, McGrew said.
The initiative will develop curriculum in welding, programming and robotics to meet the needs of manufacturers in the Sacramento area. It also plans to establish a local manufacturing jobs board and to standardize job descriptions.
The Sacramento Valley Manufacturing Initiative is modeled after the North State Grow Manufacturing Initiative, or GMI, which was developed in Chico and opened in 2013. In Chico, the GMI puts on events and produces directories in association with the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the National Association of Manufacturers.
In October, the Sacramento Valley Manufacturing Initiative will host a career fair at California State University Sacramento.