Organizations like Girls Inc. seek to get younger students interested in STEM

In July of 2018, the Pledge to America’s Workers promised training-and-education opportunities for more than 1.2 million American students and workers over the next five years. More than 300 companies and organizations have committed to contributing over 12.7 million training hours and education opportunities by 2024.

The pledge came in response to what National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons estimates as more than 500,000 currently unfilled manufacturing jobs in addition to 2.4 million jobs predicted to go unfilled by 2028.

In response to the pledge, Walmart alone has promised 1 million opportunities for its workers. This comes as no surprise. In the spring of 2018, Walmart made national headlines when the retailer announced that it would fund degrees in business and supply chain-management for its employees. Programs such as this increase longevity of employment and improve workforce quality.

Girls Inc. of New Hampshire
Address: 815 Elm St., Manchester, NH 03101
Founded: 1974
Participants: 1,800


Strong – Healthy Mind and Body: physical fitness, nutrition, healthy relationships, mental health

Smart – Academic Success: STEM, homework help, summer reading programs to prevent summer slide, literacy and reading programs

Bold – Independence: STEM college and career readiness, leadership, economic empowerment

The Pledge for America’s Workers begins even earlier by targeting manufacturing inclined students before they enter the workforce.

“We need manufacturers, kids, parents, and schools working together to dissuade people from the old perceptions that manufacturing is unsafe or dirty.”

Zenagui Brahim, New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership

Unfortunately, manufacturing is often misunderstood by Gen-Z – Americans born after 1996. According to the Pew Research Institute, the oldest members of Gen-Z are less likely than Millenials to be in the labor force.

Zenagui Brahim of the New Hampshire Manufacturing Extension Partnership wants to change that.

“We need manufacturers, kids, parents, and schools working together to dissuade people from the old perceptions that manufacturing is unsafe or dirty,” Brahim said.

Illustration by Annabelle Meszynski

Hands-on experience

In order to bridge the gap between students and employers, NAM instituted a National Manufacturing Day in October of 2014, which the state of New Hampshire has wholeheartedly embraced for five years.

In 2016, New Hampshire expanded the program to last an entire month, engaging middle and high school students in manufacturing visits.

Youth organizations are likewise doing their part to ensure that a new generation of manufacturing professionals will be at the ready, by pioneering STEM education.

Girls Inc. of New Hampshire serves approximately 1,800 girls every year with a whole-girl philosophy designed to inspire young women to be strong, smart, and bold.

They participate in the Bold Future Mentoring Program, an effort that combines volunteer mentors, professional staff, and research-based programming.

The goal of early STEM programming is to proactively prevent young women from feeling intimidated about failing.

Illustration by Annabelle Meszynski

Spending routine time with female leaders provides a concrete exemplar of the skills and knowledge necessary to combat stereotypes and help young women achieve their goals.

Gears & Legos

Girls Inc. of New Hampshire further prepares females to enter the STEM workforce by providing programming with demonstrated results and access to opportunities in the field.

STEM related initiatives at Girls Inc. of New Hampshire include Gear Girls and Lego League, programs which enable young women to build and control robots.

The STEM curriculum does not cease with the end of the school year. Over the summer, Girls Inc. of New Hampshire also participates in The Young Women’s Leadership Academy at Saint Anselm College.

This six-week summer program immerses girls ages 12 to 15 in leadership development, problem solving, and decision-making.

Participants engage in job shadowing, college tours, a career fair, and a variety of other team building activities to prepare them for professional success.

STEM initiatives at organizations like Girls Inc. will change the way young women think about pursuing careers in manufacturing.

Illustration by Annabelle Meszynski

Problems of perception may emanate from the fact that manufacturing hasn’t always been on the upswing.

Many Gen-Xers, born between 1965 and 1980, recall entering the job market thirty years ago when, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 5 million more manufacturing jobs existed than today.

Organizations like Girls Inc. are actively altering Gen-Z’s view of sophisticated manufacturers in the fields of robotics, defense, medical equipment, and space travel.