American workers are known for their dedication, dependability and grit. To remain competitive, however, our country must create a pipeline of highly skilled workers ready to compete in the 21st century economy. One often-overlooked benefit of foreign direct investment is the insight and expertise that globally successful companies bring to the United States when they invest in local communities. It may seem counterintuitive for foreign-based employers to develop world-class workforce development programs in the United States, but that is exactly what is happening in communities across the country.
For Siemens, employee development is a significant part of safeguarding the company’s success. Currently, the German-based global powerhouse offers its employees 26 Core Learning Programs. Last year, 4,068 employees from 70 countries signed up for those offerings. In addition, Siemens works to train other company’s employees. One example is its Power Academy, designed to cover the “A to Z” of transmission and distribution systems.
Last summer, Nestlé launched Project Opportunity in the United States. This career acceleration initiative is designed to help people of all ages gain work experience and strengthen their professional development skills in food and beverage manufacturing.
Nestlé has pledged to expand its apprenticeship program to 31 factories in the United States and reach 300,000 people with “readiness for work” activities annually. Project Opportunity offers a three-year program that combines on-the-job and coursework-based training to develop critical manufacturing job skills.
In 2015, Project Opportunity’s apprenticeship program launched with apprenticeship programs for Electrical and Controls Technicians, and this year, Nestlé is adding a Maintenance Mechanic apprenticeship program.
Apprenticeships are not just for the manufacturing sector. Other industries, including the insurance sector, are also starting apprenticeship initiatives to strengthen the next batch of workers. In accordance with its Swiss origin, Zurich Insurance North America has pioneered a unique apprenticeship program that not only readies new recruits for one aspect of the job, but rather teaches the apprentices skills in every aspect of the industry.
Global investment provides jobs that come with excellent training for the 21st century economy.
We recently polled 100 chief financial officers of global investment companies to get their views on what drives their decisions to invest in a certain country, and in terms of the United States, within a certain region. In both cases, a location’s level of skilled workforces was a top priority.
In fact, a majority of CFOs say that it is important for state and local policymakers to help facilitate public-private partnerships with local universities and colleges.