Accelerate October 2022

COVER STORY OCTOBER 2022 MAGAZINE 21 ideas, encourage innovation, work together to transform the image of manufacturing and target new talent. “The group is focused on a shared purpose – making sure our region’s world-class manufacturing industry continues to thrive,” explains Suzanne Kelley, president & CEO of the Waukesha County Business Alliance. “Many people do not realize that manufacturing is the lifeblood of our region’s economy and that we have the most manufacturing jobs per capita in the nation.” Waukesha manufacturer Aries echoes the sentiment of Waukesha County being a great place to do business. “Aries has been successful over the years due to our passionate employees. Waukesha is a great location to work, hire and we love bringing our customers from all over the country to our Waukesha facility,” said Larry Brown, president & CEO, Aries Industries, Inc. and member of the Manufacturing Executive Council. Recruiting new talent to the industry has remained one of the top priorities for the Manufacturing Alliance throughout its history. Early on, manufacturing leaders recognized that the business community could (and should) build stronger connections with education partners as a means of targeting new talent and giving students exposure to career opportunities they might never have considered. Through its strong partnership and work with the Waukesha County Business Alliance’s Education Steering Council, the first Schools2SkillsTM tour was hosted. Originally created to connect superintendents and teachers with local manufacturers, Schools2Skills quickly evolved into a platform for educating students about the career opportunities in manufacturing. Schools2Skills gives middle and high school students tours of local manufacturers to see firsthand the innovative and advanced technology available right here in southeast Wisconsin. For more than 10 years, the Alliance has coordinated Schools2Skills tours each school year. This school year, 22 tours will take place with middle and high school students from across Waukesha County and beyond. A true collaboration between the Manufacturing Alliance and Education Steering Council, manufacturing members of the Alliance continually step up and “open their doors” to students. In addition to the Schools2Skills tour program, career expos have been another outlet to build awareness and excitement around manufacturing and trades career pathways. For several years, the Alliance has hosted a manufacturing career expo with hands-on demonstrations from employers for student visitors. In 2022, the group took that to the next level. Combining both construction and manufacturing for a single Experience the Trades Expo, the inaugural joint trades expo event on October 4 welcomed 1,500 middle and high school students. By visiting with the 40+ companies throughout the expo, students were able to try hands-on activities, such as demoing robots, creating circuit boards, using virtual welders, assembling parts, flying drones, safely handling power tools and more. The tremendous response from local K-12 partners in sending students to participate demonstrates the need for ongoing partnerships between business and education to support that kind of career exploration. It’s one thing to learn about a career, skill, or tool while in school. It’s another to see the real-world application, understand what someone does for a living in that industry and be able to test it out for yourself. “The students and staff LOVED it!,” said Chris Trotter, director of school to work opportunities for the Elkhorn Area School District. “It was well organized and communicated, and the employers did an incredible job of engaging students." In addition, growing partnerships with post-secondary education institutions in the area has been a focus for the Manufacturing Alliance. Through a partnership with Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC), the Alliance has hosted regular tour opportunities in the last two years for manufacturing companies to visit WCTC, tour the Integrated Manufacturing Center and learn about opportunities to connect with the school and its students.