The need to build a more robust workforce development pipeline is evident in the hundreds of thousands of job openings in our nation's advanced manufacturing industry. Rapid technological change has created a severe skills gap, compounded by a pending wave of retirements due to the aging of the workforce.
Investment in industry-driven on-the-job training (OJT) can be an effective workforce development strategy in this economy. This brief explores one promising OJT model: the Boeing Manufacturing On-the-Job Training Project (the "Boeing Project"), funded by The Boeing Company and managed by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions (National Fund).
The Boeing project demonstrates that a well-designed OJT initiative can be valuable for both workers and employers. The project provided insight into the best uses of on-the-job training within the workforce development system, as well as recommendations for which design elements are most likely to help programs succeed. Results show that the OJT model is well suited for creating career advancement opportunities for entry-level employees, as well as for helping workforce development partnerships build relationships with employers.
Between the summer of 2012 and the spring of 2013, the Boeing OJT project placed 101 unemployed workers into training at 39 advanced manufacturing companies. Eight regional workforce industry partnerships of the National Fund provided employers with 50 percent wage subsidies during training periods of between 10 and 15 weeks. At the end of this training, employers retained 91 of those workers. Employers and employees overwhelmingly found the program beneficial, reporting high levels of satisfaction with the training experiences and the skills required.The following are the three key lessons learned from the project about the role of on-the-job training in workforce development:
- On-the-job training is well suited to customize training to the employer's specific needs, while creating career advancement opportunities for entry-level workers
- On-the-job training must include clear employer incentives to consider low-skilled candidates-and to hire newly trained workers-in order to serve as an effective job placement strategy for low-skilled, unemployed adults
- Creating on-the-job initiatives helps workforce development programs strengthen existing partnerships with employers and build new employer relationships.