LIFT, the Detroit-based, Department of Defense (DOD)-supported national manufacturing innovation institute, has entered into a new education and workforce development partnership with the Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC). This collaboration will establish a nationwide pipeline for graduates of LIFT’s Operation Next® training initiative, funneling them towards jobs in the aluminum extrusion industry.
Operation Next is currently available in 13 states and territories and provides an accelerated-hybrid program that combines online education with hands-on training to earn industry-wide recognized credentials for careers in advanced manufacturing—including industrial technologies maintenance (ITM), robotics, computer numeric control (CNC), and welding.
Specifically, Operation Next serves active-duty military members transitioning to civilian careers, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve, along with their spouses and immediate family members. As part of the partnership, AEC members have committed to granting the program’s graduates interviews for open positions at their organizations around the country. “Every year an estimated 200,000 service members transition out of the military with skills transferrable to industry,” said Marianne Donoghue, senior director of talent programs, LIFT. “Our partnership with AEC will provide exciting opportunities for finding jobs to begin advanced manufacturing careers that are in such great demand.”
This partnership will bring new and expanded employment opportunities for the program’s graduates through AEC’s U.S. extruder member companies and their 85 plants located across the nation. The industries that the extrusion sector serves, include automotive and transportation, building and construction, healthcare equipment, energy, military, aerospace, and more. The aluminum extrusion industry comprises approximately 25-30% of all aluminum production, and it is estimated that U.S. aluminum extruders have shipped more than 6 billion lbs of aluminum profiles to various markets in 2022.
“The AEC has been a long-time member of LIFT, and we saw the opportunity to support not just our industry members, but also our service members by connecting AEC to Operation Next graduates to fill key positions in council member companies,” said Jeff Henderson, president, AEC. “These service members and their families have sacrificed so much, and the least we can do is ensure they have an opportunity to interview for open positions.”
Like the rest of the manufacturing industries, many companies in the aluminum extrusion industry continue to struggle to find the right talent and skills needed to maintain and grow their businesses. The need for more workers is ever increasing as the need for extrusions in various market sectors. It is estimated that nearly 2.5 million manufacturing workers will be needed to fill vacant positions by 2028.
“This partnership with LIFT’s Operation Next program will go a long way to help fulfill the need for the skilled labor manufacturers are seeking,” said Duncan Crowdis, Alexandria Industries, and chair of the AEC’s Workforce Development Steering Committee. “Former military personnel who graduate from the program have the much-needed skills and the discipline, drive, and work ethic that ideally translate to many of the functions within aluminum extrusion.”