Siemens PLM will give more than $1 billion of in-kind software grants for manufacturing programs at community colleges and universities in Virginia. Students will have access to the same Siemens product lifecycle management software used in global manufacturing.
The series of in-kind grants was established as a result of an industry need for skilled workers and is designed to support the state's largest industrial employer, Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, and other companies with local ties such as Rolls-Royce. The grants are part of ongoing workforce development collaboration among community colleges, universities, and organizations; the Virginia Manufacturers Association; and the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center -- an organization that provides workforce training to the rural population.
The educational grant program in Virginia is the latest in a series of grants Siemens has given to schools in an attempt to create a skilled workforce for manufacturers. Bill Boswell, senior director of partner strategy at Siemens PLM, told Design News:
Our in-kind academic grant program has been in place for 12 years. In an attempt to get our technology into the hands of students, we have given more than 12,000 grants over the years. The goal is to create a pipeline of highly trained students who know PLM technologies, so our customers can find that next-generation workforce. The reason we're doing this in Virginia is we have universities, community colleges, and customers in the area.
Siemens is trying to combat a global dearth of workers skilled in manufacturing technology. "There are 10 million engineering shortages and unfilled manufacturing jobs around the world," Boswell told us. "The majority of those shortages are in India and China, but the US comes in third. A lot of those jobs require skilled production workers who get their information in 3D. We need people who know how to use this technology."
Concentrating on a particular state in order to meet its skilled-worker needs is not new to Siemens PLM. "We have actually done a few educational grant programs that were state-oriented. We did one for Massachusetts. We worked with Massachusetts' economic development to help them get certifications in place," said Boswell. "That program involved $650 million in grants, and it included technical high schools and community colleges."
The growing need for skilled plant workers in the US is fueled in part by the tapering off of outsourcing and the reshoring of US manufacturing. "Manufacturing jobs are coming back onshore as we see more and more advanced manufacturing. States are trying to attract more manufacturing, so we're seeing more requests for educational support," said Boswell. "We work with our customers to help us find the opportunities. More and more, states are coming to us with a consortium of schools they would like us to support."