Ford combats worker shortage by inviting teachers into Louisville plants

Ford Motor Co. has launched a pilot project at Louisville Assembly Plant to pique high school students’ interest in advanced manufacturing careers.

The automaker recently invited 16 local high school teachers to tour the plant and spend some time with employees during a three-day “externship” experience to learn about real-world problems in manufacturing and the skills required to solve them.

Ford leaders said they hope the teachers talk about their experiences in classrooms and get more students interested in advanced manufacturing. English, math and science teachers, meanwhile, hope their first-hand experience with a respected employer will enable them to adequately answer one of the most ubiquitous student questions: “When will I ever use this knowledge after high school?”

Teachers hope that by telling students that success at Ford and other employers depends on communication, analysis and problem-solving skills, students will realize those annoying statistical word problems and English essays do, indeed, have real-world applications.

For years, manufacturers across the country have said they are struggling to find enough workers who possess basic math, problem-solving and soft skills, such as showing up to work every day.

According to the Manufacturing Institute, about 2 million manufacturing jobs are expected to go unfilled by 2025 because of the so-called skills gap. The institute said that 82 percent of manufacturing executives who responded to a survey said the skills gap will affect their ability to meet customer demand, while 62 percent said it will curb their ability to innovate.


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