U.S. factories are expanding at the fastest rate in 14 years, but there’s a shortage of skilled workers. See how Cox Mfg is filling that shortage in a story presented by News 4 San Antonio.
Watch the video here.
A national report shows U.S. factories are expanding at the fastest rate in 14 years.
But while the manufacturing industry is booming, there’s a shortage of skilled workers.
“So the x, y and z,” instructor Donlee Wilson says as he explains the three axes of the type of robot Toyota uses to make trucks.
He’s handing over the controls to high school students enrolled in an Alamo Colleges program that trains the next generation of manufacturers.
“It was really cool, finally being able to get my hands on the robot,” says Elaina Alfaro, a 17-year-old who attends Warren High School.
Alamo Colleges is working with companies like Toyota, Caterpillar and CPS Energy to give students on-site training that could eventually lead to full-time jobs.
"I feel like my dream job, what I could build, would be like a super car,” says Charles Lee, a 17-year-old who attends Sam Houston High School.
Across town, Cox Manufacturing makes parts for companies around the world.
"We're actually a contract manufacturer,” president/CEO Bill Cox explains. "It includes electronics, aerospace, automotive, trucking."
He says the industry is stronger than it’s been in years.
"We have more and more customers wanting to pull their work back into the United States that's been made overseas previously,” Cox says.
That’s great news. There’s just one problem: not enough skilled workers.
"The technology is shifting,” Cox explains. “And another reason is the baby boomers are hitting retirement age."
To fill the gap, Cox offers an in-house, three-year apprenticeship program. The company teaches entry-level workers everything they need to know. The positions are paid, and apprentices work their way up to higher levels.
Apprentice Sean Althaus was later hired by the company as a training coordinator.
"Now I oversee the program I went through,” he says. "If you're hungry for those opportunities, you're going to find them."
So jobs are there for the taking, and students at Alamo Colleges already have a foot in the door.
"I want to be a mechanical engineer,” Lee says. He plans to pursue the degree in higher education.
Alfaro dreams of troubleshooting mechanical problems at a utility company.
"I feel like it's a big step for young women to prove that we can do it too,” she says.
Watch the video here.