Information on Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) best practices in education and workforce development (EWD) is provided by the committee to supplement material on EWD under Question 3.
Currently, MIIs collect institute-specific data on the numbers of those trained and reached in their EWD programs. While such data is useful, more macroscopic data on actual jobs created in the MII’s targeted technology area and in the region influenced by the MII are also desirable. While such data provides a useful metric for MII performance, the committee has done a detailed review of the kinds of EWD programs undertaken by MIIs and developed a list of “best practices” that various MIIs are undertaking. While these best practices are less amenable to metrics, they represent important indicators of program quality. They are also indicative of the reach, both potential and ongoing, of the MII’s EWD programs in improving workforce education skills in the MII’s technology area. While no single institute is undertaking all of the program elements delineated below, the ability to perform a number, with quality efforts, can be an important indicator of program strength. Accordingly, the committee believes that as part of MII assessment, best EWD practices listed below could be considered in addition to numerical training and job numbers.
KNOWLEDGE, SKILL, AND ASSESSMENT AND COMPETENCIES
MIIs could evaluate and periodically update the knowledge, skills, and assessments (KSAs) required in their technology fields. These could be used to define competencies then create course materials potentially usable in industry and education institutions.
- Has the MII developed, with industry and education institution involvement, a detailed set of KSAs and corresponding competencies in its technology area?
- Does it have a process in place for periodically updating these?
USE THE ECOSYSTEM
MIIs could engage closely with their membership and ecosystem—particularly industry and state education institutions (technical high schools, community colleges and universities)—in both creating these materials and using them. Optimally, the EWD program could be tied to state economic development needs and state education plans, programs, and needs.
- Are the MII’s education materials being developed and used by its ecosystem?
- Are these materials used in state education plans and programs and meeting economic development goals?
MIIs could undertake EWD engagements in the economic regions where they have facilities and programs and where they can make a substantial impact—for example, an area of a high concentration of companies that can benefit from MII’s offerings. Alliances with states and local governments, area industry, Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEPs), and educational institutions will be key to disseminating EWD programs in their new technologies. Regional approaches can assure relevance of EWD efforts to actual needs and priorities, and pilots at the regional level can then be scaled at a national level.
- MII EWD programs could consider and be engaged in both national and regional EWD programs in their technology areas and could assess how these national and regional programs can best intersect for mutual support.
- In their regional engagements, MIIs could consider active collaborations with other MIIs for broader program offerings beyond a single technology, since employers tend to want skills for sets of integrated technologies, not a single technology focus. Hence, they could also consider broader advanced manufacturing EWD offerings beyond their specific technology area in their regional efforts.
- Where possible, EWD programs could collaborate with MEP programs to assure dissemination to manufacturing SMEs.
- Where possible, EWD program could collaborate with community and technical colleges and universities in the region on education programs.
- What programs has the MII formed for regional engagements around EWD needs?
- What is the level of engagement (financial, human, etc.) and expectations of the key regional partners?
- Is the MII offering broader advanced manufacturing EWD in addition to its own technology?
- If so, is it working in collaboration in this regard with other MIIs?
- Is it collaborating with area MEPs on these regional EWD offerings?
Mapping skill demand—MIIs could map and periodically update future employer demand in MII technology skill areas, both in the MII’s region and nationally.
Skill roadmaps—MIIs could develop and periodically update “skill roadmaps” (with worker demand in the MII’s technology and corresponding education planning) to meet skill needs for adoption in the MII’s region and nationally, that coordinate with the MII’s technology roadmaps.
- These mapping activities could inform the MII’s programmatic EWD efforts, and over time enable the MII to help meet skill demands and needs, which could be captured in the mapping process.
- Is the MII engaged in both mapping skill demand and in developing skill roadmaps, both regionally and nationally?
- If so, is this mapping informing its programs?
- Are there indications from the mapping that the MIIs EWD efforts are affecting and improving skill needs and demand?
MIIs could develop online course materials and modules for use by employers and education institutions in their technology areas where there are gaps in education offerings. MIIs could also consider development of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) material as an alternative for some hands-on learning aspects. These online materials could be available for posting on ManTech’s pending Open edX platform.
- Has the MII developed online education materials in its technology area available to industry and education institutions?
- Are or will these be posted and accessible on the ManTech Open edX platform?
- To what extent are these materials being used by industry and educational institutions?
The MII could be seeking outside funding to supplement its core funding from ManTech in order to get its programs to appropriate scale. The nature of the funding available and sought could be aligned with the role the MII plays—that is, is the technology “close in” to adoption, which may require focus on both technician and engineering training, or “further out” from implementation and scaling, so requiring more engineering education focus, consistent with the corresponding EWD mission.
- Core funding. Does the MII’s EWD program have a reasonable percentage of core ManTech funding, corresponding to its role, set aside and budgeted for EWD?
- Outside funding. Is the MII attempting to obtain and obtaining additional funding to support and scale its EWD efforts from sources, apart from DOD ManTech core funding, to sustain broader EWD impact?
The MII could obtain experienced staff to work on EWD efforts, with experience working with industry education programs of particular use.
- Is the MII adequately staffed with personnel experienced in EWD practices?
- Has the staff demonstrated the ability to engage extensively with industry and education EWD partners in the MIIs ecosystem?
The MII could clearly define the MII’s role in the credentialing EWD space. It could evaluate available credential offerings in the MII’s technology area, then work with industry to fill in credential gaps—it could examine how existing credential systems are utilized relevant to its technology areas and assess possible collaborations with manufacturing associations relevant to meet the credential needs for their advanced manufacturing technology sector. In the interest of scaling new credentials and building their widespread acceptance, MIIs could generally avoid setting up credentialing as a short- and mid-term
profit center. Where MIIs are developing new credentials, they could generally use independent third-party credential assessment organizations. In developing credentialing efforts, they could tap into the industry technology experts, not simply industry human resource officials, for credential development advice. A system could be in place for periodically updating credentials.
- What is the MII’s credentialing strategy? Has it evaluated available credential offerings in the MII’s technology area, then worked with industry to fill in credential gaps?
- Are these credentials achieving industry recognition?
- Is it offering new credentials with backing from independent credentialing organizations to undertake assessments and certifications?
- Is there a process in place to periodically update credentials?
- Is the MII actively supporting or convening development of standards for nationally transportable, stackable certificates?
The DoD workforce, in depots and arsenals as well at defense contractors, will have need for skills being developed by the MIIs in their technology areas. MII EWD programs could actively pursue such collaborations. For “closer in” skills (robotics, digital production, additive, etc.) the need will be at both the engineering and technician level; for “further out” technologies (photonics, advanced fibers, flexible hybrid electronics, etc.), the need may be largely at the engineering level. For evaluation purposes, such a review of technology maturation can be tied to TRL or MRL levels. Mechanisms to engage the DoD workforce, in collaboration with other MIIs and ManTech, could be under active consideration and implementation by MII EWD programs.
- Is the MII engaging with depots and arsenals and defense contractors in its EWD programs?
- If so, what are its program efforts and can they potentially scale to meet skill needs?
Military veterans can be an important source of talent for manufacturing jobs if they receive workforce skill training. Participation in MII-developed “Operation Next” for advanced manufacturing training for military personnel who are planning to enter the civilian sector (as well as for National Guard and military spouses) is one option MIIs could consider for teaching this potential talent pool.
- Has the MII developed training efforts that reach veterans? Is it participating, for example, in Operation Next?
- Is it tracking how veteran trainees are placed in industry and how well they apply their trained skills and knowledge?
Particularly in “further out” technologies, MIIs could leverage existing programs and develop new ones to engage and educate entrepreneurial and start-up firms in their technologies.
- Since the number of new manufacturing firms is in significant decline, technology entry by new firms can be important to MII success over time in enabling their new technologies to develop. So, programs for educating entrepreneurs in the MII’s technology (such as through NSF’s I-Corps
- program) can be a key support mechanism for technology entry, i.e., it can be a way to generate start-ups in the MIIs technology area.
- Has the MII developed an outreach program for potential entrepreneurs (such as through NSF I-Corps) interested or involved in its technology area?
- Has it developed education programs to assist such entrepreneurs?
- Are these programs reaching the target audience?
Ultimately the success of an MII should lead to growth in economic activity in the targeted technology area, certainly regionally, and perhaps nationally. For a sufficiently mature MII, one would expect to observe growth in demand (regionally, and perhaps nationally) for skilled workers in the target technology area, and eventually job growth. Data could be compiled over time to indicate this.
Regarding numbers trained—In addition to collecting numbers of those trained, MIIs could attempt to track what happens to students and trainees that engage in MII EWD programs, including, to the extent possible, information on how many students and trainees began to work in the field. Because the extent of an MII’s industry and education institution engagement in competency development and training may improve industry uptake, numbers could include those reached by industry and education programs MIIs have participated in or assisted. Numbers of those reached by MII programs could be compared to levels for demand and skill needs undertaken in mapping activities.
- In collecting data on numbers of students or workers it educated and trained, is the MII collecting information on whether those education entered positions or performed work based on the training?
- Has the MII contributed to programs in industry or at education institutions that reach addition numbers, and has it estimated these?
- Has the MII compared these overall numbers it is reaching to its mapping activities for skill demand and needs?