Festo Joins Workforce Development Panel Discussion

EACC’s ‘Transatlantic Workforce Development and Job Creation’ Event at NJIT in Newark, NJ, USA



On March 24, 2016 Torsten Schimanski, Head of Festo’s Learning Center based out of Festo’s headquarter in Eatontown, NJ, joined a panel discussion for workforce development and job creation hosted by the European American Chamber of Commerce New Jersey.

The speakers shared insights about collaborative work beyond borders, the meaning of technology for the future workforce, industrial automation, apprenticeship initiatives in New Jersey and legal aspects for German companies in the US.

The US, and in particular New Jersey, is suffering from a skills gap situation where employers are challenged by finding qualified staff while thousands of job seekers are lacking the required qualification that would get them into employment. “The Festo Learning Center offers training courses and the expertise to support New Jersey’s initiatives to close the skills gap” says Torsten Schimanski, who started his personal career with an apprenticeship program in Germany. “I believe that apprenticeship offerings can be the right solution for many people who want to have a career in trade jobs or manufacturing.”

Jobs in manufacturing are available and well compensated. “Unfortunately jobs in manufacturing have an image issue” Schimanski points out. “Festo’s engineers and technicians for example program and assemble robots and production lines usually work in casual business attire. There is no grease, dirt or bad air.” Unfavorable working conditions are often the reason why young people decide against an education in trade. It is a picture that many still have from the 70’s or 80’s when working conditions were unquestionably bad and dangerous. One speaker points out that automation will eliminate some jobs and create new jobs at the same time. Manual labor will be and has been replaced by robots – instead jobs were created in programming, coding, robot design or maintenance for these machines. Schimanski pleads for an image campaign to show how attractive jobs in manufacturing can be.

“Apprenticeship programs are the backbone of the German industry and the source of qualified workers” Torsten Schimanski explains. “I believe that focusing more on these models and adapting it to the US work environment will change people’s lives”.

The event took place at the NJIT campus in Newark NJ. NJIT and Festo are working closely on apprenticeship and workforce development solutions in the field of manufacturing and mechatronics, a hybrid education combining electronics, mechanics, IT and control systems.

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