Workshops for Warriors is a nonprofit that found a huge deficit in the American economy, the advanced manufacturing industry, and then found a group of people looking for a path to a successful career, Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and transitioning service members. They say if you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime, but this nonprofit takes things one step further and not only helps Veterans find a way to support their families, but is creating a new system altogether.
Again, despite the fact that the manufacturing industry is present in the everyday lives of each American, we're left with a huge gap in the industry--a lot of opportunity, but not a lot of skilled labor. According to The Manufacturing Institute, there will be 3.4 million new advanced manufacturing jobs created over the next decade, yet currently 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled due to this shortage of a trained workforce.
With the median age of America's manufacturing force at 61, those investing in these skills now have the opportunity to "rule" the industry in the coming years. Manufacturing is responsible for our cars, bridges, buildings, down to the headphones we wear, and yet there is not enough interest or enough visibility out there for those looking for jobs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care and social assistance has become the largest industry in terms of employment, significantly overtaking manufacturing. In 1990, almost every state in America has manufacturing as their highest employment, but by 2013 only 6 could make that claim.
Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute also created a wonderful infographic that discusses some of the troubles in advanced manufacturing and the fact that companies are willing to pay 80% more than market rates due to the talent crisis.
The moral of the story: By bringing these jobs back to America, we can go back to building our economy with advanced manufacturing as the foundation. On its current path and pace, Workshops for Warriors will change all that. The most amazing part? Their programs come at no cost to the Veteran.
How Workshops for Warriors Is Bringing Back American Jobs, Two-Fold
With over 1 million service members transitioning out of the Military in the next 5 years, connecting them with the manufacturing industry seems like a no-brainer once you hear it. Workshops for Warriors is an accelerated program where students can earn up to 15 nationally recognized credentials in one 16-week, accelerated semester. These credentials are accredited by the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS), American Welding Society (AWS), Mastercam, and SolidWorks.
Workshops for Warriors is currently the only training pipeline in American training and certifying Veterans into these careers. In the March 2016 issue of the San Diego Business Journal, Founder Hernn Luis y Prado explained the economic impact a system like this offers.
"Military Veterans have a wealth of leadership and critical thinking experience that not only benefits their employers, but also their peers in the workforce. They are, in essence, a multiplier effect--their presence in corporate America has a far broader, positive economic impact. Getting veterans into these positions will require training for the technical skills that can match their ability to solve problems in the most challenging of environments."
So how is the nonprofit making it happen? Aside from grant writing and fundraising, they have the help of major donors in the manufacturing space who want to invest in their industry. Workshops for Warriors Founder Hernn Luis y Prado also started a for-profit company, WFW Industries Inc., where proceeds go straight to the nonprofit.
I spoke with Chief Operating Officer Rachel Luis y Prado who explained that offering these programs completely free to Veterans is crucial to their mission, but the community has had to pull together to make it possible.
"Donors such as The Gene Haas Foundation, Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. and others have truly been the backbone to our organization. The GI Bill application is an 8-year process and we are in year 6, so we are currently unable to receive any federal or municipal funding."