MILWAUKEE, Wis. – One of the manufacturing industry's greatest challenges is inspiring young people to consider working toward a career in equipment manufacturing.
However, a new initiative led by the Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)’s Ag Sector Board aims to change that fact by increasing the number of equipment-specific courses being taught in high schools today, to help expand awareness of and enthusiasm for the equipment manufacturing industry.
With help from the Equipment Dealers Assn. (EDA), the two organizations have awarded 32 educators from 15 states partial scholarships for certification in equipment courses starting this summer. The courses, offered through the Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE), will qualify teachers to begin teaching the courses this coming fall and reaching over 2,200 students in the 2018-2019 school year.
“By leading a teacher scholarship program in partnership with Equipment Dealers Assn., we have a great opportunity to help make students more aware of and excited about the opportunities on the equipment side of the Ag industry,” said Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services at the Assn. of Equipment Manufacturers. “AEM is fully committed to workforce development and we are proud to help provide 32 teachers the training that will help them fully engage their students in the opportunities available in agriculture.”
Since the launch of the CASE curriculum, more than 2,500 teachers have achieved certification to teach its classes. However, only about 90 of those certifications are in equipment-specific courses. AEM and EDA hope to increase that number through this scholarship program.
“Since its inception, EDA’s Foundation, the Equipment Dealers Foundation, has provided scholarships for students looking to begin or further a career in Ag,” says Joe Dykes, VP of Industry Relations for EDA. “Now we are thrilled for the opportunity to partner with AEM and CASE to promote the value of an agricultural education from the other side of the classroom. Sponsoring scholarships for teachers is consistent with one of the Foundation’s most important goals, workforce development. The specific programs we’re sponsoring are aimed at closing the skills gap, or the gap between supply and demand for equipment technicians – a major issue in our industry right now. We believe working together to get people excited to teach and learn about agriculture is the best way to grow and sustain interest in our industry.”
The teacher certification initiative is just one piece of AEM’s broader, comprehensive workforce development initiative crossing the agriculture equipment and construction industries.
To emphasize local workforce development, AEM and EDA members located near the scholarship recipients have an opportunity to connect directly with the teacher and their students. Manufacturers and dealers are encouraged to bring the teacher and students to their facility for hands-on experiences beginning this fall. This supports long-term relationship building with the teacher and the students and develops a sustainable grassroots effort to increase the number of qualified service technicians and technologists entering the workforce.
“We expect agriculture teachers to be ‘jacks-of-all-trades’ as they must teach a variety of agricultural, natural resources, and mechanic related subjects while enhancing core-academic disciplines, such as science and mathematics,” said Miranda Chaplin, CASE Operations/Outreach Director. “However, agriculture teachers often have minimal training in how to teach mechanics related content and skills. Funding provided by AEM and EDA is essential for teachers to gain cutting-edge professional development experiences with CASE to enhance their teaching practices in order to implement STEM-based agricultural mechanics courses. The long-term impact of this support will benefit and spark interest in thousands of high school agriculture students.”
CASE is a multi-year approach to agriscience education with rigorous educator training requirements and hands-on, inquiry focused learning activities for students. While CASE currently offers ten courses, the Agricultural Power and Technology (APT) and Mechanical Systems in Agriculture (MSA) prepare students for the wide array of career opportunities in agricultural engineering. Students are immersed in inquiry-based exercises that emphasize in the math and science of agricultural mechanics and engineering.
During the CASE Institute, teachers will spend 80 hours working through nearly every lesson in the yearlong curriculum and learning how to deliver lessons in an inquiry-based way that will shift focus in the classroom from teacher-led to student-directed learning.