ELEVATE: A Manufacturing Talent Pipeline Program for High School Students

September 12, 2019

Partnering with local schools, Textron Systems’ Marine & Land Systems (MLS) business line founded a program to enhance high schoolers’ vocational education and career outlook through cutting-edge technology, trainings and demonstrations by seasoned professionals.

The ELEVATE program works with local school districts to provide vocational training, internships, co-ops, materials and job placement opportunities to graduating high school students.Beamer Aston, Senior Human Resources Business Partner, said, “Before employees started engaging with students, the majority of them didn’t think it was feasible to graduate high school with a job in the trade industry. By beginning to work with these students during their junior year of high school, we are fostering and reinforcing the skills they learn in school by demonstrating and exposing them to high-end technology and in-demand products.”

By giving individuals a jumpstart in their career, students can gain valuable knowledge and skillsets. Josh Rogers, an ELEVATE program graduate and current welder said, “Through my role at MLS, I have become a certified automatic panel welder (APW). I assumed when I first started, I would only be hand welding, but having the opportunity to continue learning new things while advancing my skills, the sky is the limit! The program and the job are all more than I ever could’ve expected.”

Through the program, experienced MLS employees visit schools to teach and highlight jobs that are available for students interested in the trade industry. The program also invites students to visit the MLS plant to receive hands-on demonstrations. Clay Adkins, a production supervisor at MLS said,“We put students with our most accomplished employees to give them experience that may have taken someone else 20 or 25 years to acquire on their own. The students visit our facility to see firsthand the incredible products we manufacture, and the various tools we use to create them. It’s a learning opportunity you can’t get in school; you can tell it really inspires students.” The program not only ignites students’ drive to learn, but also reinforces current employees’ passions by allowing them to share their knowledge and expertise.

The program continues to increase awareness of careers in the trade industry while helping students advance their skillset. Kells Browne, a recent graduate of the program and current welder at MLS, was excited to grow his manufacturing proficiencies, saying, “Gaining these skills and certifications really sets us on the right path for success.”

With six successful ELEVATE graduates, the program will continue to bring in a steady flow of talented new employees, while also benefiting the community. As Adkins said, “It’s rewarding to see young individuals learning and advancing their skills; to me, that’s the benefit of what we’re doing.