Five non-profit organizations developing the future of the manufacturing and trades workforces were awarded $10,000 each at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers’ (AEM) 2019 Annual Conference as part of their Next Gen Grant Program. The winning organizations focused on training for and encouraging careers in construction, manufacturing, technician service, and business and financial skills development.
“We knew there were a lot of organizations encouraging and preparing youth for careers in manufacturing and the trades,” said AEM Workforce Development Director Julie Davis. “All the same, we were still surprised by the degree of diversity and innovation in these programs, and how they are tackling genuinely challenging workforce development issues in their communities.”
This grant, in part to celebrate AEM’s 125th Anniversary, was available to qualifying organizations. In order to have been considered for the AEM Next Gen Grant, organizations must have been a registered 501(c)(3) organization engaged in outreach toward a K-12 audience, engaged with an educational organization (e.g. school district, tech school, college, etc.), and nominated by someone from an AEM member company.
The winners for 2019 are:
• The Construction Forum (St. Louis): The Construction Forum was nominated by Darryl Matthews of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based technology company Trimble, Inc. The Construction Forum focuses on workforce, inclusion/diversity, regionalism, and collaboration in their effort to understand the barriers facing youth entering the workforce, and ending the cycle of poverty in St. Louis, by encouraging careers in regional construction.
• Equipment & Engine Training Council (York, S.C.): The Equipment & Engine Training Council (EETC) was nominated by Jake Gaylord of Munich and Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based construction equipment manufacturer Wacker Neuson. The EETC was developed to address a skills gap for students wanting to repair and maintain agricultural, turf, mining, construction, and utility machines that are becoming increasingly complex. By teaching middle and high school students the basics of engines, electricity, hydraulics, pneumatics, and mechanical systems, and influencing future technicians earlier on, the EETC hopes to narrow that skills gap.
• Junior Achievement of Wisconsin (Milwaukee): Junior Achievement of Wisconsin was nominated by Carl Jensen of Waukesha, Wis.-based component manufacturer Husco International. Junior Achievement offers financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and work-readiness programs to youth throughout the entire K-12 spectrum. Part of their curriculum, called JA BizTown, allows elementary school students to operate an entire town, including running banks, working in supply chain, checking inventory, and voting for a mayor. Around 150,000 students participate in a Junior Achievement program each year.
• National Association of Ag Educators (Lexington, Ky.): The National Association of Ag Educators’ Curriculum for Agricultural Science Education (CASE) was nominated by Mark Core of Pella, Iowa-based agricultural and industrial equipment manufacturer Vermeer Corporation. CASE gets secondary and post-secondary students to work together with industry to increase enrollment in technician degree programs at two-year institutions. CASE has also developed a course teaching 10th through 12th graders focusing on technical skills that agricultural service technicians will need in a mechanics career.
• Transition to Career Program (Harper, Kan.): The Transition to Career Program (T2C) was nominated by Luke Thornton of Harper, Kan.-based agricultural, turf, and landscape equipment manufacturer Harper Industries. T2C acts as a liaison between Harper County school districts and community businesses, provides speakers to area high schools to talk about careers, sets up job shadows, and supports businesses who train student interns. T2C also hosts a “Manufacturing Day” and a “Reality U” financial literacy program once each year.
The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) is committed to bringing the equipment manufacturing industry together to develop and share best practices and tools to help recruit the workforce of tomorrow. For a video with additional information about these winners, visit
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