Be a doer!

"We're not consultants. We're doers," said Jeff Owens, president of Advanced Technology Services Inc., when I met with him in his office in Peoria, Ill. Advanced Technology Services is a spinoff of Caterpillar, Inc. They provide contract maintenance and depot repair service for many of the manufacturing companies in the United States and in some other places around the world. Their wall of customer plaques includes names like Ford, Honda, GM, Honeywell, Textron EZ-GO, Eaton, and many more. Although they are heavily invested in discrete manufacturing, they find themselves being drawn more and more to process manufacturing and hybrid manufacturing companies as well. They have 8 Six-Sigma blackbelts and over 30 Six-Sigma Greenbelts on staff, so they aren't a bunch of shade tree mechanics. They will completely outsource a company's maintenance department, including management...and provide preventive, predictive maintenance and all the CMMS data you will need. But that's not why I went down to Peoria to visit them, even though what they are doing is a fascinating business model. No, the reason I went down to Peoria and spent the whole day with them is that they can't find enough workers to keep pace with their expansion. So they've decided to grow their own. They've established a scholarship program at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to grow manufacturing engineers and leaders. They provide up to $14,000 for community college graduates who are accepted into the College of Engineering Leadership Program, funded by ATS and a grant from ATS founder and CEO, Dick Blaudow, himself an SIU graduate. And they haven't stopped there. Bob Avila, ATS's director of training has worked with Peoria's Illinois Central College to create a new program, the Multi-Skilled Technical Careers Program.DVD inage for Multi-Skilled Technician program "A shortage of skilled workers has created a nationwide crisis faced by industry, Avila said. "This has brought about significant challenges in finding qualified and highly skilled people. The nationwide shortage of skilled workers, those capable of maintaining today’s complex and sophisticated production equipment, is causing industry to proactively seek solutions." Well, not exactly "industry," Bob. Really just a few very forward thinking companies, obviously including ATS...and everybody else is just standing around watching the impending train wreck as the boomers retire and young people have no desire to enter manufacturing as a career. Avila went on, "The Multi-Skilled Technical Career Program is a joint venture between ATS and ICC to promote enrollment in all technical programs.The program's focused target includes high school graduates, undecided ICC students, military and displaced workers." But let's let Avila and ICC's Dr. Rick Polanin tell you in this recruiting video they've posted on YouTube...

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