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In the nine months since IPC joined in President Trump’s “Pledge to America’s Workers” and committed to creating 1 million new skilled workforce opportunities over the next five years—a fair question has been asked: Are we taking credit for actions we would have done anyway? Was this motivated by politics?
The short answer is “no,” and the longer answer is worth sharing.
As a longtime leader in education and training programs for our members, IPC was already on track to help thousands of people qualify for new and better jobs. A chronic shortage of adequately skilled workers is one of the most difficult challenges facing our industry, and we are not waiting for someone else to solve the problem.
That said, when President Trump challenged the private sector to step up and do more in this area, we took it as an opportunity to review, improve, and expand upon our educational offerings.
As a result, over the last year we have:
• Added new training courses and credentials programs to train and certify more entry-level and mid-career workers, aiming to benefit an extra 100,000 or more workers over the next five years;
• Established the IPC Education Foundation, which will invest more than $5 million over the next five years to provide curriculum tools, resources and industry-recognized credentials at the high-school and post-secondary level;
• Under the Foundation, created 14 new university-based chapters, with a goal of reaching 50 chapters in 2020, and eventually reaching thousands of future electronics specialists;
• Created a new scholarship program for students and educators who are interested in electronics subjects;
• Introduced Project Owl, a hands-on learning activity for middle and high-school students, who will receive basic training and an IPC certificate that could pave the way to an electronics career. This one project alone could educate and inspire more than 350,000 students across the U.S.;
• Commissioned new research into the needs and gaps in high-school science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula, which will inform our future efforts; and
• Launched the IPC Workforce Champions intiative, in which nearly three dozen member companies have pledged to do more.
In short, IPC and our members are making unprecedented investments in education and training programs and expanding them to cover all aspects of skills building from middle school to adulthood. Incidentally, we’re also expanding our workforce education efforts in the European Union.
Would we have done some of this anyway? Yes. We were already planning to educate about 250,000 people over the period 2019 to 2023. But on our new course, we are expanding our total effort to benefit more than 1.1 million people over that period. (See chart.)
The President’s challenge—and the opportunity to win White House-level recognition for our efforts—certainly catalyzed us to do more. It heightened the excitement and ambition in our discussions and plans.
And mind you, we are not doing this for political reasons; we’re doing it to address our industry’s top business challenge.
Ultimately, it’s about building a larger, stronger pipeline for millions of people to enjoy better careers and lives through our industry.