Manufacturing Career Academy

Manufacturing Career Academy2018-05-21T15:10:13-04:00

Advanced Manufacturing Career Academy

The SVAM Center of Excellence (SVAM-CoE), a dba of the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing, Inc. (SVAM), aims to advance the skills and the image of manufacturing.

With its close alliance with the region’s manufacturers and access to subject matter expertise, SVAM-CoE is resourced to offer and facilitate an Advanced Manufacturing Career Academy. With the current and projected shortage of skilled workers, the young adults ages 16-24 are vital to the sustainability of manufacturing operations.  The activities, tours, and projects of the AMT are designed to educate and expose the targeted young adults to the reality of manufacturing and counter the young adults’ negative perception of manufacturing.


The Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing, Inc. (SVAM), a private, nonprofit 501-(C)3 organization managed and operated by an association of manufacturers, was incorporated in 2007.  The SVAM Center of Excellence (SVAM-CoE), an SVAM initiative, was formed in 2014. The primary purpose of SVAM-CoE is to advance the image and skills of manufacturing in Southwest Virginia.  Advanced skills training, which leads to third-party certifications, is offered in welding, machining, and industrial maintenance/mechatronics.

Problem or Needs Statement

Over the next decade, nearly 3½ million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap. Moreover, according to a recent report, 80 percent of manufacturers report a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly-skilled production positions. (Source: Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute).

The youth and younger workforce have a negative impression of manufacturing, and not choosing it for a career.  Innovation and technological advances are rapidly transforming US manufacturing. Production is being streamlined and processes automated.

 – The skills required of “advanced” manufacturing workers have likewise evolved.
– Worker skills have not kept pace with the needs of the integrated factory.
– The resulting “skill gaps” have currently produced 600,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs nationally. – It is vital to expose the reality of a career in advanced manufacturing to the youth and younger workforce.

Program Objectives

SVAM-CoE offers a 4-day hands-on Advanced Manufacturing Career Academy for young adults (ages 16-24) in the Southwest Virginia area, where they will be engaged in the use of CNC and Welding equipment, as well as automation used in industry today.ess/product will be a Light Saber.

The goal is to expose students to advanced technologies, machines, and equipment, and to offer a glimpse of the exciting, challenging and often high-tech world of manufacturing.

  • To educate young adults about advanced manufacturing equipment and technology;
  • To expose young adults to today’s manufacturing environment through plant tour(s);
  • To improve the young adults’ perception of manufacturing and careers in manufacturing; and,
  • To award Lean Six Sigma White Belt Certificate from Genedge


At the first and last meetings, SVAM-CoE staff will ask each participant to complete a pre- and post-academy survey/questionnaire, anonymously, to assess their knowledge and perception of manufacturing.  The results of the surveys will be analyzed to determine a change in knowledge and perception of manufacturing.

Program Design

Academy participants design and build a product experiencing the start to finish satisfaction of creating something they can show off with pride. Throughout the process, they learn about Lean concepts and application (White Belt), how to do CAD design and operate various kinds of manufacturing machinery under the close supervision of expert manufacturing trainers.

The participants learn about the newest technology utilized by manufacturing companies.  In addition, they will learn about the manufacturing process through group activities including, but not limited to, the engineering and assembly of a Light Saber.  Each participant will design a project using CAD software and then operate a 3D Printer to print his/her personalized project.  After a required safety training, participants will be introduced to the welding profession, as well as learn basics of Mig welding process and techniques through the completion of a welding project.  When applicable, equipment demonstrations will be performed for the participants. Competitions/teambuilding activities will be incorporated into each aspect of the academy.

In addition to exposure to equipment/technology at SVAM-CoE facilities, the participants’ tour local manufacturing facilities to learn what kinds of jobs exist, what skills and training are required, and how those businesses developed. They will have the opportunity to hear directly from local manufacturing company owners how they started their businesses, applying basic entrepreneurship principles to understand how a single product idea becomes a business.