Smart Manufacturing, Brilliant Ideas
Fremont’s Economic Development Office takes pride in undertaking our work with a collaborative, innovative, and employer-driven approach. Our team plays a key role in supporting employers in dealing with critical workforce development challenges. These challenges are characterized by the following:
- Modern manufacturing processes that are being revolutionized by technology through innovations in 3D printing, robotics and IoT. This is largely due to our region’s fertile innovation ecosystem that is leading to manufacturing and technology partnerships at an unprecedented rate.
- As production complexity increases, the need for new skill sets emerges. Employers, particularly in advanced industries, are in need of workers with these necessary skills to operate and program complex machinery, and oversee new processes. This has resulted in a wider skills gap in today’s workforce.
These challenges are front and center in the Bay Area, and especially prominent in Fremont where the city is home to over 900 innovative companies in advanced industries, particularly manufacturing.
This rapidly evolving landscape can be an important source of economic competitiveness and high quality employment. But growing the talent base for the advanced manufacturing employers needs special attention.
Good news is that several workforce development programs are emerging to address the talent conundrum. The trick is to ensure that these programs can successfully train workers and job seekers for jobs in today’s advanced industries.
So how do we do that? Two words: employer engagement.
This single most important strategy can help align programs with employer needs, and match individuals with high-growth, high-wage jobs.
For our team, this strategy is the North Star that directs our efforts related to workforce development. We collaborate with like-minded partners, and together we are effectively engaging employers, and building deeper partnerships.
The city’s ability to build these partnerships is enhanced by playing a leadership role on the Alameda County Workforce Development Board (WDB). The WDB provides job seeker and business services including access to training resources, tax credits, and direct recruitment support. Training programs such as On-the-Job-Training and Employment Training Panel provide funding to employers to assist in upgrading the skills of their workers through training that leads to good paying, long-term jobs.
Here are just a few examples of employer-driven programs that are making a difference.
Ohlone College Smart Manufacturing Curriculum
Ohlone College kicked off the Smart Manufacturing Program this Fall with a goal to develop and deliver a package of new engineering courses driven by evolving advanced manufacturing employment needs and organizing them in a structured, highly-supported pathway with defined onramps. These onramps are targeted specifically for developmental students, traditionally underrepresented in STEM degree and career tracks, in order to expand and diversify the talent pool of engineering techs qualified for employment with local advanced manufacturing firms.
With a new state-of-the-art facility, including a Smart factory and robotic equipment, Ohlone College is the first and only community college in California to offer this curriculum!
This new curriculum was created based on direct feedback received from the industry advisory roundtable, which was 80 members strong, and comprised of local business leaders, Fremont’s Economic Development, policymakers, and local workforce and education partners. Enjoy a few pictures from the kick-off ceremony last night as well as a video message from Mayor Mei at the end of the blog!
Tesla’s Workforce Programs
Fremont’s largest advanced manufacturer and employer is leading by example with employer-driven training programs such as Tesla START which arms students with deep knowledge of Tesla products and service, so graduates are ready to hit the ground running on Day 1 of their new careers.
Each year Tesla also celebrates Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, a national movement to show girls how engineering can be a great career choice and a great way to change the world. This program engaged 200 female students in 2019.
In addition, Tesla has been part of the advisory board for Ohlone College to advise and collaborate closely on the new Smart Manufacturing Program curriculum that addresses their workforce needs.
Fremont Library Maker Space
Fremont’s FUSE fellow, Parker Thomas set out on his quest last year to introduce STEM activities to anyone and everyone who is interested in innovation thinking. The new program called “Archimedes” featured in our June 2019 blog was created at the Fremont Library, which is a makerspace full of laser cutters, 3D printers, a new computer lab, and hand tools to foster not only learning, but also experimenting and failing.
Fremont Economic Development connected Parker with local advanced manufacturing and technology companies to explore what skills employers are looking for in today’s workforce. The culmination of this effort led to local students utilizing the library maker space to develop and prototype solutions to real-life design challenges identified by two local Fremont companies – Gridscape and Sepisolar – both of whom listed problem-solving and life-long learning skills as “top qualities” in workforce today.
NextFlex has developed a portfolio of workforce programs that bring partners from across the spectrum of workforce development stakeholders to ensure businesses have the depth and diversity of talent required to drive innovation and remain globally competitive. NextFlex largely focuses on the development and commercialization of Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE), such as wearable circuits that can be imbedded into clothing to monitor heart rate and hydration, for instance. Check out our July July 2019 blog featuring Nexflex to learn more.
Workforce Development will continue to be a critical component of City’s economic development program. In addition, the City provides a wide range of support for employers that include permitting support, industry connections, access to resources, and marketing.
Collectively, this employer-focused approach allows our innovative companies to secure workforce talent required to stay competitive in a dynamic, fast-growing, globally-competitive economy.
Ohlone College kicks off the New Smart Manufacturing Summit in Fremont,CA on September 10, 2019 in partnership with Tesla and the City of Fremont–>
Mayor Mei’s video message to attendees at Ohlone College Smart Manufacturing Summit at Tesla
Dr. Gari Browning, President, Ohlone College
Dr. Rose-Margaret Itua, Professor of Engineering, Ohlone College
Tina Kapoor, Economic Development Manager, City of Fremont
Chris Reilly, Workforce Development and Education Programs, Tesla