Five Reasons Why We’re Investing in Tech Ed
I recently read that high school graduates have been so effectively encouraged to get a bachelor’s degree that high-paid jobs requiring shorter and less expensive training are going unfilled. This trend is impacting all sorts of industries, including ours. For example, Advanced Energy’s global services business is growing “double-digits” year-over-year. That’s great, but consequently we need more technicians to deliver those services, a shortage that’s exacerbated by the low number of people choosing a technical career as well as the fact that so many current technicians are nearing retirement.
Before describing how we’re aiming to help solve the problem for AE, let me point out that there are many good reasons why a company should be investing in next-generation technical education, other than meeting an immediate resource need. And for the record, I have a two-year electronics degree and now manage the largest service division at AE. I’m not an exception. Eight percent of the Service Technicians in my group were promoted last year, and the majority of the people in my division have opted for non-traditional education paths.
Why is it smart to invest in tech ed?
- Attracts the kind of talent you want – If you research, you’ll find that a Service Technician’s salary is approximately $50,00/year. That’s about 10,000/year higher than the overall average. One source put the figure at $65,000. That’s great incentive for bright, skilled people who are getting started on their career or returned to school seeking new opportunities.
- Grows the talent you need – Getting students interested in engineering and aware of your company seeds your talent pipeline. According to a study by the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization Corporate Voices for Working Families, “Improving the skills of future workers will come from employers investing in their incumbent workers and growing their own talent pipelines.”
- Opens doors for women and minorities – Not only can you help solve for your talent shortage, you can spark interest in groups that are underrepresented in the field. Research shows that diversity fosters innovation and tends to improve retention and boost team performance.
- These are rewarding positions – Service Technicians work with complex electronic equipment that is critical to the organization. Their work is challenging, engaging, matters and is appreciated.
- Creates community engagement – You can collaborate with your local high schools and community college, perhaps by helping them with equipment or other resources and to shape their curriculum. It’s another example of how corporate social responsibility efforts benefit the company and the community.
What is Advanced Energy Doing?
You’ll hear a lot of discussion about resource shortages but, frankly, not many organizations are taking action. A couple years ago, we decided to start doing something about it. As a first step, we launched an internship program, which brought students into AE from several regional technical colleges.
This year, we are expanding our efforts by developing the Service Center Scholarship Program. Through this scholarship, we will fund up to $20,000 for tuition and other expenses for a deserving student, offer a paid summer internship and consider them for employment when they graduate. High school graduates or military veterans considering a technical community college as well as current first year and second year technical community college students are eligible. These two programs are a start, and we’ll add to them and modify our approach as we learn from them.
More than ever, investing in people is an investment in the enterprise. Please share what your organization is doing, so we can all be inspired to invest in the future.