Big Picture Perspective

Boeing’s Ray Conner calls for ramped up training for careers in manufacturing

Speaking to educators, continued effort needed for workforce training

By Jennifer Ferrero, APR, CC

This August, Ray Conner, vice chairman of The Boeing Company and member of the Boeing Executive Council spoke at the annual conference for the Washington Association for Career and Technical Education (WA-ACTE) in Spokane.

Ray Conner of Boeing and Mary Kaye Bredeson of the Center of Excellence at the WA Association of Career and Technical Education Conference in Spokane, August 2017

The theme of Conner’s speech was on fostering success, and his tone was hopeful. Boeing has been a valued partner in the state of Washington for educators, and in support of workforce development for many years.

Conner is personally invested in the success of workforce education in the state. In speaking to the group of over 600 career and technical educators at the conference, he said, “You have the power to change lives and to impact the economic future of our nation.”

His goal is to ensure that we strengthen jobs at home and compete on the world stage. But, he identified that the United States needs to have more of a “coordinated investment in our workforce.”

Conner has spent time around the world and said that from the countries he’s visited, he’s been most impressed by Germany and their investment into developing apprenticeships. He noted that about 60% of students are involved with on-the-job training taught in apprenticeships.

While he’d like to continue to see growth in hands-on learning, he also noted the critical importance of understanding automation and working toward a skilled workforce that can work at the highly automated Boeing plant in Everett, WA.

As manufacturing has evolved, and become more highly automated, he said that it has created a “better, safer, more efficient way of doing things.”

Tim Knue, executive director of WA-ACTE said that Conner’s talk, “validates the work that everyone is doing.” He noted that in Washington, career and technical education programs are in place and offer a quality education to students.

The next generation of workers, according to Conner, needs to understand technical education and cited that out of 3 million available jobs, probably 2 million will go unfilled due to an untrained workforce.

Dan Parker, The Boeing Company

Core Plus – Boeing’s Curriculum Leading the Way

–A Trainer’s Perspective

Manufacturing-based Training in High Schools

When Boeing wants to do something, they are all-in. The organization has invested over $750,000 into manufacturing-based curriculum that is being rolled-out to high schools statewide through the name Core Plus.

“Core Plus is a two-year, industry driven standardized high school curriculum recognized by the manufacturing industry throughout Washington state to prepare high school students for an entry-level career in manufacturing upon graduation. Core Plus is taught in two consecutive years. The first year teaches common manufacturing skills across multiple industries. The second year is industry specific to meet local needs.” Core Plus Implementation Guide for School Partners

Dan Parker, a Core Plus Team Lead, who works to engage K-12 educators and schools across Washington said that it is important for our high school students to take Core Plus.

He said that in the program, “Students start to identify what they’d like to do in their future career; and they get entry level skills.” They may decide to enter secondary education or they may go to work after high school.

Core Plus started in 2010/2011 when high schools said that they were going to have deficiencies in training because shop classes were disappearing. Boeing decided that something needed to be done and invested $750,000 to develop curriculum, completed in 2016, that could be rolled out statewide, for free to schools.

The 2016/17 school year was the first year that the curriculum was collectively rolled-out. The Boeing company notes that the curriculum was developed in conjunction with industry partners and educators.

  • Year 1 includes basic manufacturing skill-sets across all sectors.
  • Year 2 is where students start to specialize into an area that they like – maritime, aerospace.

So far, over 100 students have been hired into The Boeing Company from the Core Plus program.

These programs are becoming very popular, according to Parker, because students see that they can obtain employment right after graduation – or go onto further education.

Students are also earning college credit through these programs.

If there’s a challenge, it is that getting into the programs – due to high school graduation requirements, can stop kids from engaging.

Parker feels that educators should try to reach out to industry to get involved.

His contact information:
Dan Parker
Core Plus Team Lead, K-12 Engagement
The Boeing Company

Core Plus from an educator’s perspective

–From the classroom

Educator Chris Names shares why it has been a valuable program

Seattle School District – Seattle Skills Center

Enrollment is up 50% within the Core Plus program at Seattle Skills Center this year. Educator, Chris Names said that it’s because students can see a job at the end of high school while obtaining “valuable skills,” according to Names.

The Skills Center is also giving dual credit for math, science and English this year. Names said that non-college-bound kids can be prepared to go to work after high school graduation when completing this 2-year program.

The students take factory tours, like at Boeing, learn safety, and work ethic. The kids can see what their future career looks like through hands-on tours.

Some of his students have obtained jobs with Boeing, and other manufacturers. One student started at Boeing, and is now enrolled at University of Washington to study aerospace engineering.

The kids in the program can earn up to 49 college credits.

“We want the kids to go to work, go to trade school, or go to a community college,” he said.

What Names likes the most about Core Plus is that “they aren’t necessarily earmarked for Boeing, they can go somewhere else for work.”

Names said that the program is about the “whole manufacturing process today – including ag, construction, medical – it’s the whole spectrum.” He reflects that there is a tremendous opportunity to find success.

The curriculum is free to use by schools, and there is some equipment needed, but Names said that it isn’t tough to obtain.

Contact Core Plus