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Let's 'Ignite Advanced Manufacturing' in Northeast Indiana

Monday, March 11, 2024
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Ignite Advanced Manufacturing March 7 Launch Event

 

By Laura Macknick, President and CEO, Don Wood Foundation 

 

Business, higher education, K-12 school districts, and economic development leaders from northeast Indiana joined the Don Wood Foundation on March 7th to launch Ignite Advanced Manufacturing, an awareness and coalition-building campaign designed to ignite interest, passion, and the pursuit of careers in advanced manufacturing.

In northeast Indiana, a troubling paradox has emerged. While boasting a significant advanced manufacturing sector, the region grapples with attracting, nurturing, and retaining the talent vital for sustained growth and prosperity. By 2028, advanced manufacturing jobs in Allen County alone are expected to increase to more than 31,000 positions. However, during the 2022-2023 school year, only 460 high school students in Allen County were enrolled in advanced manufacturing courses.1

Without intervention, the looming talent shortage threatens to trigger adverse consequences that will ripple throughout the region and beyond. “We must drive awareness of opportunities, change outdated perceptions, and address the skills gap,” said Laura Macknick, president and CEO of Don Wood Foundation. “Ignite Advanced Manufacturing creates a unified resource that connects students, adult learners, families, educators, organizations, and companies. Together, we will create change and build a better future.” 

Macknick explains that the challenge is not a lack of people; rather, the challenge is a lack of knowledge and interest. She adds, “And these are things we can change. The industry needs a rebrand. We must change perceptions, educate, and create interest.” 

Through increased awareness of and interest in advanced manufacturing among students and young people, Ignite Advanced Manufacturing will also help address the existing and growing skills gap in northeast Indiana. 

In addition to students and adult learners, the campaign will also engage educators, counselors, parents, peers, and local leaders—anyone and everyone in a position to help inspire the next generation of advanced manufacturing talent. The campaign will leverage a mix of targeted digital marketing, experiential marketing, and in-person engagement to drive increased awareness of and interest in advanced manufacturing as a career path. 

“Ignite Advanced Manufacturing is designed to amplify, not compete with, the efforts already in play with existing partners in the region,” said Macknick. “This campaign will be successful if the community embraces working together to strengthen our workforce for careers of the future.” 

Advanced manufacturing is where various backgrounds and skill sets come together to solve complex problems and achieve common goals.

Join the Effort

The DWF encourages everyone to visit the Ignite Advanced Manufacturing website at www.igniteadvancedmanufacturing.com and its related social media channels. Even more importantly, DWF asks the community to share these resources. We welcome ideas, feedback, or questions. You will find a place to connect on the website.  

 

1 Technical Education Ecosystem Report for Allen County; Don Wood Foundation & Ambassador Enterprises. Patrick Buesching & Sherry Grate; March 2024. Research conducted by TPMA.

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