Manufacturing has an image problem. Despite high paying, long-tenured career options, people aren't joining the field. According to the Department of Commerce, only 17 percent of people view manufacturing as a top career choice. Federal figures also show that only 8 percent of college students are enrolled in two-year certificate programs, which tend to be vocationally oriented.
Honeywell's John Ricciardelli is on a mission to change that. Since taking the helm of Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies in Kansas City in 2016, his vision for the future has included developing ways to boost the manufacturing pipeline to operate the Department of Energy's Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC). Honeywell has become one of the premier manufacturing employers in the region by offering an average starting hourly manufacturing labor wage in Kansas City of more than $36/hour.
"As manufacturing innovation continues, we must ensure our employees are trained to keep up with innovations and technology advancements," said John Ricciardelli, Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies President. "Most of the education focus has been directed at filling the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) pipeline with engineers. However, we see a bright future for students choosing trade skills as well."
In the last year, Honeywell has hired 500 new people for manufacturing jobs such as assemblers, welders, machinists, and tool and die makers, and it's likely to continue to grow. Overall, Honeywell has hired over 1,000 employees in 2017 and expects to increase its workforce to 4,000 by the end of 2018 to fulfill its national security mission.
This year, Honeywell launched the Honeywell Opportunity and Prosperity through Education (HOPE) scholarship program in partnership with local schools to help develop the next generation of highly skilled technical people. As part of the scholarship program, Honeywell pairs the students with a manufacturing mentor to provide insight on manufacturing positions available at the KCNSC. Scholarship award amounts vary and qualified students can receive a full scholarship depending on need and/or academic qualifications.
"Honeywell has a proud history rooted in Kansas City, said Ricciardelli. "Since opening in 1949, we've been recruiting highly skilled people from the region for our national security mission. Many multi-generation family members have enjoyed long successful careers here."