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Siemens believes in investing in current and future workers. And in the U.S., Siemens’ holistic approach to industrial reskilling is focused on five areas:
What many Americans traditionally think of as blue-collar jobs now go by different names –technical or middle-skills. While many STEM jobs require a bachelor’s degree, a large percentage of these positions, half by some counts, are obtainable by earning an associate’s degree, completing an apprenticeship program or completing training programs at community colleges. This can be done inexpensively without adding to the $1.3 trillion in student debt now shared by 42 million Americans.
In order to help advance opportunities for young adults in STEM middle-skill careers, the Siemens Foundation launched a workforce development program, the STEM Middle-Skill Initiative in 2015, to leverage the experience and expertise of Siemens as an industry leader and pioneer in workforce development. The Initiative addresses three clear objectives – elevating the economic opportunity available in STEM technical careers in the national dialogue; rebranding the image of these jobs and educational pathways to one of prestige; and accelerating training models that work.
An important part of what both the Siemens Foundation and Siemens’ businesses are trying to achieve is to generate a new sense of national pride in middle skills, STEM education and careers in industry. In Germany, getting accepted into the dual system is as prestigious as getting accepted into university. In the United States, pursuing alternatives to four-year universities such as an apprenticeship program is still too often seen as an inferior pathway. Even as middle skill and STEM positions grow rapidly, enrollment in technical training programs remains flat.
To shine a light on exemplary young adults in STEM programs at top community colleges and promote the real story of opportunity available in STEM middle-skill careers, the Siemens Foundation created the Siemens Technical Scholars project in partnership with the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program. The Siemens Foundation is also a proud supporter of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.
The Siemens Foundation also works with the National Governors Association’s (NGA) Center for Best Practices on scaling work-based learning in states to expand the use of effective training models for young adults in STEM fields. Through this partnership, Siemens and the NGA are working with Indiana, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah and Washington to make effective work-based learning models for STEM an integrated part of their education and training systems.
The Siemens Foundation is eager to continue to work with public and private partners across government, economic development organizations, schools and others to continue building a 21st century workforce and enhancing opportunities in America.
Today, 70 percent of U.S. high school graduates go straight to college, but only 50 percent of these students graduate and do so with an average $30,000 in student debt. Siemens’ U.S. apprenticeships provide students a different pathway to the workforce via middle skills, which represent half of all job openings nationwide anticipated through 2022. Middle skills positions require more than a high school education yet less than a four-year degree with a strong technical skill set.
Siemens started its apprenticeship program in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company then expanded its apprenticeship program to four more states – and soon will be in a total of 9 states. Graduates earn an international industry certification, an associate’s degree and an apprenticeship completion certificate. They graduate with no debt and with a guaranteed job at Siemens, with a starting salary of around $55,000 a year.
Siemens provides on-the-job training while designing curriculums in partnership with community college partners to train workers in modern manufacturing skills. This is helping to both close the skills gap and inspire young people to pursue opportunities in advanced manufacturing.
Siemens also wanted to encourage other companies to replicate these efforts nationwide. So the company worked with Alcoa, Dow, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Department of Labor to develop a playbook for other manufacturers seeking to launch similar programs.