According to a national survey, less than 20 percent of Americans said that their parents or school system had encouraged them to pursue a career in manufacturing. In response, Alcoa Foundation, the charitable arm of Alcoa, a manufacturing company pioneering the revitalization of the industry, teamed up with their new partner, Discovery Education, in an effort to bridge the industry’s unemployment gap through an online program named "Manufacture Your Future," which debuted in late May.
Manufacturing companies rely on the knowledge and capabilities of skilled workers to keep their businesses going. As a result, manufacturers should be, and often are, proponents of programs that encourage education in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.
With employees in 30 countries across the world, Alcoa is truly a global company. Given the extent of its reach, Alcoa Foundation, the charitable arm of Alcoa, designs its community giving platform with this global audience in mind, developing scalable programs in partnership with select nonprofit organizations. In September 2013, Alcoa Foundation announced a global initiative for unemployed youth in ten Alcoa communities in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Jamaica, Spain, United Kingdom and United States. Through the Internships for Unemployed Youth Program, participating youth will receive the education and training necessary to pursue a career in manufacturing. Suzanne van de Raadt, Global Communications Manager, Alcoa Foundation, provided some insight into the history of the program and the tools Alcoa has used to manage its execution across geographies.
In our most recent webinar, Supporting education: Meeting the needs of community and company, we learned from three professionals who have developed unique education programs that strategically align with their core business as well as their communities’ needs. Hilary Ayala, Director of Consolidated Edison’s Grassroots Management and Strategic Partnerships Programs, Janet Nicholas, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Dassault Systemes, and Dave Enzerra, Senior Director of Community & Public Affairs at Lubrizol Corporation, demonstrated how they successfully implemented and now maintain their education initiatives while facing budget constraints and global challenges. In this webinar we got an in-depth look into three programs that differ in scope, targeted participants, goals, and outcomes.
Hilary Ayala from Con Edison utilizes a grassroots approach, listening and optimizing employee passion for a program that addresses a key issue for both the betterment of local students, and for the company’s future in recruiting students that have excelled in the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Con Edison became involved in the FIRST Robotics competition in 1999 because it provides an opportunity for employees to connect with students on a one-on-one basis and to use skills that they use throughout their work at Con Edison, creating a win-win situation for both students and employees.
In November 2009, President Barack Obama launched the Educate to Innovate initiative to move American students from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math achievement over the next decade. This campaign includes the efforts not only of the federal government, but also of leading companies, foundations, nonprofits, and science and engineering societies that have come forward to answer the president’s call for all hands on deck.
Few community investments have the potential to make as big a difference in the well-being of society and individual lives as supporting the education of young people. Education also happens to be a shared priority among a variety of stakeholder groups. As a result, many companies have identified this philanthropic area as an ideal balance of employee and community interest, an area where companies can make a big difference, and an issue of great importance to the future of business and society.