Distributor Discussion at Annual Conference Focuses on Workforce

A morning breakfast discussion session at this year’s NFPA Annual Conference featured tables focused around issues of importance to NFPA Councils…the Distributor Council, Pneumatics Council and Supplier Council.

The planned discussion topic for a table of the Distributor Council led by Jim Slone of SunSource was the “Biggest Challenge/Issue to Grow Your Business,” and the problem of finding and training people in the face of an aging workforce was without exception the biggest issue around the table.

Participants talked about ideas for reaching out to prospective employees and promoting careers in fluid power through college and high school science fairs, Boy Scouts, FIRST Robotics, and connecting with college internship programs. Having visibility and marketing through social media is important in connecting to young prospects as well. And all participants indicated they hire young people out of college and provide training, and the consensus among the group was that it’s important to hire people from schools within the market/area in which they are needed.

Finally, the group discussed NFPA’s outreach to schools at all levels to promote education and career opportunities in fluid power. NFPA has the services of two people in reaching out to schools through a variety of programs:

  • Lynn Beyer, Workforce Program Manager at NFPA, is responsible for building connections with High Schools and Middle Schools, largely through the Fluid Power Challenge; and also with 2 year Technical Schools.  (lbeyer@nfpa.com; 414-778-3364)
  • Alyssa Burger at the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power is working closely with NFPA, helping us reach out to 4-year colleges and universities. (alyssa@umn.edu; 612-624-4991)

NFPA Workforce Development programs include partnerships with the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP) and the International Fluid Power Society (IFPS), and:

  • The Fluid Power Challenge, aimed at middle and high school students;
  • Student Career Connections Program, offering presentations on careers and class tours of facilities;
  • Teaching and Laboratory Grants;
  • Adopt-A-Lab Program, facilitating connections between companies and schools in support of lab equipment;
  • Senior Capstone Design Project Sponsorships;
  • Promotion of Student Internships; and
  • FIRST Robotics Mentoring.

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