By Lynn Beyer, Vice President of Workforce Development Programs, National Fluid Power Association
In biennial surveys, National Fluid Power Association members consistently rank workforce development as the most challenging issue their companies face. One reason is that not enough technical colleges and universities are teaching fluid power. So how can we get more students interested in fluid power careers? It is something we continually work on at NFPA.
NFPA identified growth of the workforce as one of its primary strategic priorities. It is important to our mission of strengthening the industry. NFPA needs to work to increase the number of educated technicians and engineers embarking on careers in fluid power and connect them to industry members.
We have made our way down many different avenues by supporting scholarships, grants, and competitions, among other efforts. And while we’ve often raised student interest, we were not always able to bring these programs together and work alongside each other to lead students into fluid power careers.
We realized we needed to form complete pathways, not just a resource here or there along the way. That approach left us no place to lead students if they were interested in the next step.
Here are some of the programs we’ve created to help accomplish these goals and begin to answer this burning question of how to raise interest in fluid power among students at all educational levels.
Fast Track to Fluid Power is a workforce development pathway that brings companies and technical colleges together with middle and high school teachers and students. This network creates awareness and interest in fluid power and leads students along a path to careers in the industry. There are four main participants in this program:
The University Power Partner Program is another pathway we created to connect our members with universities that teach fluid power. To be considered as a Power Partner, a university must:
Here is a description of these programs and resources NFPA has created to provide help.
While these programs are new and may take a few years to gain traction, we have already seen growth in hiring as a result of connections between students and our members in the fluid power industry.
With the goal of providing future fluid power professionals for the 21st century, NFPA continues working with students at all levels.