Back to School: Time to Close the Skills Gap
September and January are big back-to-school months for many students around the world. While the timing may be different, the goals are often the same: to gain knowledge and skills that lead to productive, meaningful and successful careers.
As one of the largest global mining, manufacturing and engineering companies, Alcoa sees a huge opportunity to help prepare students in the areas where we are seeing a tremendous skills gap: science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and manufacturing. We are mobilizing our financial and human resources to partner with other companies and nonprofits and offer programs that set individuals up for the many opportunities in advanced manufacturing available around the world. Klaus Kleinfeld, our Chairman and CEO, put the spotlight on this issue with a call to action in an article for USA Today when he said:
“Our combined experience in business and government leads us to believe that there is much that can be done to get companies the skilled workers they need to grow through smart, targeted collaboration between the public and private sectors. The United States should be leading the world in basic education, not languishing near or below average.”
At Alcoa Foundation, we form partnerships and initiatives that address unique educational and skill development challenges along the talent value chain, from elementary schools to community colleges to universities and four-year colleges. A number of these programs are highlighted in this newsletter.
- FIRST© Tech Challenge: Supporting a robotics competition in Australia, China, Germany, Russia and the United States for teams of high school and secondary school students to develop their STEM skills and to gain experience working in teams.
- Engineers Without Borders International: Providing engineers and engineering students from universities and colleges in Australia, Brazil, Canada and the United States with opportunities to apply their knowledge on community-based projects in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Kenya and Nicaragua.
- The Manufacturing Institute: Supporting certification programs developed with employers and select U.S. community colleges to provide students and workers with postsecondary credentials that add real value in the workplace; a concentrated focus on veterans in Indiana and California; and a virtual global symposium to discuss best practices in curriculum and corporate partnerships in Australia, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and the United States.
So, as students around the world return to their studies, aiming to better themselves and their future, we have to play an active role in shaping and supporting curriculum and creating hands-on opportunities to keep students engaged. As Klaus Kleinfeld points out in the USA Today article, it is important that public-private partnerships be a central part of the discussion around workforce development in manufacturing. I encourage each of you reading this to get involved in some way. There is much to be done.
Paula Davis, President, Alcoa Foundation
What's Happening Around Our Focus Areas and Alcoa
Give Cards a Great Way to Educate and Engage Stakeholders
Alcoa created branded give cards with DonorsChoose.org and GlobalGiving to bring attention to environmental and education causes, and help nonprofit partners secure additional funding for their programs. DonorsChoose.org supports specific classroom projects at public schools in the United States, and GlobalGiving provides vetted social entrepreneurs and nonprofits anywhere in the world a chance to raise money needed to improve their communities. By giving people the chance to become micro-grant makers in their own backyard or across international borders, we involve them in our causes and create connections to work that’s being done around the world. Read more
Robotics Program Provides Hands-On Experience
The FIRST© Tech Challenge Robotics program engages 9-12 grade students in hands-on, minds-on experiential learning in the fields of science, technology, and entrepreneurship while promoting creativity, innovation, and social responsibility. Throughout 2012 and 2013, secondary and high school students from Alcoa communities will be competing against teams in Australia, China, Germany, Russia and the United States. While the students are having fun with their teammates designing, prototyping and programming robots, they also will be building the STEM skills required to compete globally as the next generation of skilled technicians and operators, engineers, designers and business leaders. Attracting students to the STEM disciplines is the first hurdle, and retaining student interest in these areas is the second. Learn more
Manufacturing Institute and Community Colleges Prepare Students for STEM-Capable Careers
Photo courtesy of Eastern Arizona College
Overlooked in the unemployment reports are career opportunities for skilled operators and trades people who can receive high quality training and certification at community colleges. The Manufacturing Institute’s Manufacturing Skills Certification System works with community colleges to integrate standards and content into a system of nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials, to equip workers with the right skills to access and progress in advanced manufacturing careers. Eleven community colleges affiliated with Alcoa locations were selected in the first year in California, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. At community colleges in California and Indiana, The Manufacturing Institute created the Right Skills Now for Transitioning Veterans, an accelerated program for veterans to earn college credit towards a degree, a national certification with labor market value, and the hands-on technical experience to be successful on the job from day one. Read more
Engineers Without Borders Inspires Students to Put their Skills to Work
This year, 150 students from 20 Alcoa academic partner universities in Australia, Brazil, Canada and the United States are participating in the Engineers Without Borders “Building for Better” program. Through community-based projects in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Kenya and Nicaragua, students will work on solutions to improve the quality of life for an estimated 7,000 people. Projects will focus on applied technology issues, such as solar water heaters, distance learning, construction using local materials, rainwater catchment and safe water storage. Read more
GE, Manufacturing Institute, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Alcoa Launch Coalition to Train U.S. Veterans for Jobs in Advanced Manufacturing
‘Get Skills to Work’ is a new coalition that aims to train military veterans for jobs in advanced manufacturing, bolster the talent pipeline and enhance American competitiveness. It will be managed by The Manufacturing Institute and supported through financial and in-kind commitments from GE, Alcoa, Boeing and Lockheed Martin. These initial investments will help 15,000 veterans translate military experience to corresponding advanced manufacturing opportunities and gain the technical skills needed to qualify for careers in this growing sector. The coalition is seeking additional partners to meet its goal of reaching 100,000 veterans by 2015. Companies and veterans interested in joining this effort or learning more can visit www.GetSkillstoWork.org.
CEO Column: Lack of Skilled Employees Hurting Manufacturing
Amidst today's high unemployment levels in the United States, some 300,000 jobs are going unfilled, often because employers are unable to find men and women with the advanced science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills that modern manufacturers need. In July, Alcoa Chairman and CEO, Klaus Kleinfeld wrote an op-ed in USA Today together with Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, about the importance of a STEM-capable workforce. In it, they focus on three solutions: 1) adopt and expand the Common Core curriculum, 2) provide training programs that give graduates nationally recognized, portable skills and diplomas, and 3) create a nationwide, online skills database that links students, community colleges and employers. Read more
Alcoa, Alcoa Foundation and Keep America Beautiful Launch “Action to Accelerate Recycling” Commitment
During this year’s Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting, Alcoa, Alcoa Foundation and Keep America Beautiful announced a national commitment to increase U.S. recycling rates. “Action to Accelerate Recycling” will generate awareness, create incentives, and provide recycling access and infrastructure to increase U.S. recycling of aluminum, plastic, glass and paper. The commitment, which includes US$2 million in funding from Alcoa and Alcoa Foundation, is expected to engage millions of Americans and increase the current U.S. recycling rate by 10 percentage points. Kevin Anton, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Alcoa, announced the commitment during the CGI “Waste: Global Issues, Local Perspectives” session. Read more
Alcoa Foundation Sends Nonprofit Leaders to One Young World Summit
Alcoa Foundation is a primary sponsor of One Young World 2012 where more than 1,200 delegates from around the world will convene October 18-22 in Pittsburgh, PA, home of the Alcoa Corporate Center. In addition to our NGO leaders, 10 early-career Alcoa employees will design projects and initiatives to improve communities. Read more
Environmental Education Ideas Multiply for Teachers at The Keystone Center
Canadian teacher quotes Irish author George Bernard Shaw when describing her experience: “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”
In July, with support from Alcoa Foundation, three Canadian teachers working for the Environmental Education and Citizenship program (PEEC) attended a week long training program at The Keystone Center in Colorado. This year marks the 15th anniversary of Alcoa Foundation’s partnership with The Keystone Center and a 10-year partnership with PEEC.
Claude Poudrier, PEEC General Manager, Mylène Poudrier, PEEC trainer, and Martine Chênevert, teacher associated with PEEC, share their insights. Read more
Earthwatch Institute Trains 10th Class of Alcoa Environmental Fellows
During August and September, Alcoa Fellows worked alongside Earthwatch scientists in Brazil, Canada and China, and participated in facilitated learning sessions to expand their knowledge of how environmental issues relate to their life, communities and Alcoa. This year’s expeditions took place at Guyrá Farm in Brazil, the Arctic's edge in Canada and Dinghushan National Nature Reserve in China. Through the 10-year partnership, nearly 150 Alcoa employees have contributed around 9,000 research hours to find solutions to a range of environmental and sustainability challenges. Other corporations that see Earthwatch as an opportunity to educate their talent include HSBC and Ernst & Young. Read more
Pass the Can App to Raise Awareness for Recycling
Alcoa introduced a new Facebook app that engages and educates users about aluminum recycling in a fun way and leverages their social network to encourage their friends to act. In "Pass the Can," players crush a virtual aluminum can, pass it to Facebook friends, and at the same time encourage real-world recycling and contribute to a 'green' cause. Each time a can is ‘passed’ to a friend, Alcoa Foundation will donate $1 (up to US$75,000) to recycling efforts led by three leading conservation nonprofit organizations: Keep America Beautiful in the U.S., Planet Ark in Australia and the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Europe. Crush a Can!
Alcoa’s Global Workforce Volunteers during Seventh Annual Worldwide Month of Service
This October, more than half of Alcoa’s global workforce is expected to participate in more than 650 community service projects, giving back alongside NGOs, academic institutions and government. In 2011, a record 56 percent of employees shared their time and talents to make a difference in their community. Read more
Alcoa Wins International Innovations Diversity Award by Profiles in Diversity JournalTM
The award honors organizations that have demonstrated unique, out-of-the box thinking and developed innovative solutions that offer measurable outcomes in the area of workforce diversity and inclusion. Alcoa and Alcoa Foundation were recognized for their partnership with the National Society of Black Engineers, engaging students in a successful “tweet-up” about their experiences at the organization’s annual convention earlier this year. Read more
Alcoa’s Chief Diversity Officer Among Women Worth Watching in 2013
Gena Lovett, Chief Diversity Officer, Alcoa is among nearly 200 women executives selected as “Women Worth Watching in 2013” by Profiles in Diversity Journal, a magazine focused on diversity and inclusion in business and various sectors. Read more
Alcoa Named Corporate Citizenship Award Finalist for Sustainable Local Development in Brazil
Alcoa was named a 2012 finalist for the Citizenship Awards, presented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center in the “Best International Ambassador” category. Alcoa was recognized for anticipating possible situations that could emerge in the construction and operation of its new mine, developing meaningful partnerships that ultimately boosted local economy, fulfilled business opportunities and increased mutual trust in the community. Read more
Alcoa Recognized as one of the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™
This annual award recognizes top employers that display leadership and innovation towards engaging their employees in the Eight Elements of Employee Engagement™: Communication, Leadership, Culture, Rewards & Recognition, Professional & Personal Growth, Accountability & Performance, Vision & Values and Corporate Social Responsibility. Read more
Would you like an Alcoa or Alcoa Foundation thought leader to speak at your next conference? We would like to learn more about opportunities to share what we’re doing around global philanthropy, environmental sustainability, education and measurement. Send us information to consider.
Areas of expertise include:
- Employee Engagement
- Shared Value Creation
- Metrics and Evaluation
- Creating a stakeholder framework for a global enterprise