Woodworking educators address industry
The MiLL, Pittsburg State, and MATC address the challenge of the skills gap in
manufacturing jobs in the woodworking industry.
Companies look to the MiLL
Over the next decade it is expected that
3. 4 million manufacturing jobs will have
to be filled. Despite the large projection
in the number of jobs, 2 million are
expected to remain empty due to the
skills gap. Some 2. 7 million baby boomers
in manufacturing will retire, but only 1. 4
million jobs will then be filled.
Manufacturing executives recognize
the problem, with 84 percent of
executives agreeing there is a shortage of
skilled employees in manufacturing.
Les Smith, market development
manager at Sherwin Williams Performance
Coatings, agrees that the field is in need
of trained employees. However, hiring new
employees is not easy. It takes up to 90 days
to recruit a skilled worker. Once hired, an
employee would have to go through more
training and development.
“One of the biggest struggles for
companies is retaining and holding onto
employees,” said Smith.
Three of the best strategies
manufacturing executives agree on are
through on-the-job training, local schools,
or through certification programs. The
Manufacturing Industry Learning Lab
(MiLL), based in Colorado Springs,
Colorado, encompasses these three
strategies, allowing companies to tap a pool
of skilled individuals already interested in
manufacturing and construction.
The MiLL gives young students
an early start in developing their
manufacturing, construction, and
cabinet-making skills. With the help of
partnerships with outside companies
and organization, like Sherwin Williams,
the MiLL equips students with technical
skills employers are looking for, but also
gives real world advice in how to navigate
“Technical skills are always a plus.
Though, the MiLL is setting up their
students with both soft and technical
skills. They teach students what to do in
an interview and how to handle problems
with other employees and internal issues.
In the industry, there are standards and
expectations and the MiLL teaches all
this to their students,” said Smith.
The manufacturing industry should
be paying close attention to the MiLL
and the students who enroll there. The
MiLL sets up students to learn, even past
graduation. Companies have already
seen potential in the MiLL’s students.
Another company that has made a strong
effort to connect to the MiLL and its
students is Concepts In Millwork Inc.
Editor’s note: No one school or industry program can by itself solve the manufacturing skills gap. Here’s a look at how three programs in three different
parts of the country are tackling the challenge.
Students at the MiLL understand that the woodworking industry is constantly changing and they
have to keep up to perform the best at their jobs.