Advancing racial equity in manufacturing

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Thirteen community colleges have been selected to join a national project that aims to advance a racially inclusive future for manufacturing.

The Century Foundation (TCF) and the Urban Manufacturing Alliance are leading the project that is focused on building ecosystems and increasing racial equity in the manufacturing sector. The project, funded by Lumina Foundation, brings together community colleges and eight urban workforce development organizations. The coalition will strategize solutions to the U.S. manufacturing sector’s ecosystem building, develop credential-based training programs to create a more racially inclusive future for manufacturing, and help deepen relationships between employers and communities.

The Industry and Inclusion Cohort (I&I) began in 2020 as the U.S. manufacturing industry shifted to produce medical and personal protective equipment as a part of our fight against the pandemic. But while the pandemic brought about the rebirth of the manufacturing industry, “it also caused record unemployment across sectors, particularly for people of color who became unemployed at disproportionate rates, compounding the effects of systemic racism that make it more difficult to attain well-paying jobs in the first place,” according to a TCF press release.

At the same time, workforce shortages continue in manufacturing.  Pre-pandemic estimates indicated that the United States needed an additional 2.4 million manufacturing workers over the next decade.

Among the colleges selected in February for the Industry and Inclusion 2.0 cohort is Sierra College in California.

“As demand for skilled manufacturing workers grows in our region, it is critical that we ensure racial equity is critical to how we rebuild the future of work in manufacturing here and around the country,” says Amy Schulz, dean of continuing, career, and technical education at Sierra College. “We are eager to share our expertise from our current credential programs that connect students directly to manufacturing jobs, learn from our fellow cohort members, and ensure a more racially equitable future for the manufacturing industry.”

Other colleges selected are Bishop State Community College (Alabama), Pima Community College (Arizona), Norco College (California), Community College of Denver (Colorado), College of Lake County (Illinois), Ivy Tech Community College (Indiana), Hawkeye Community College (Iowa), Baton Rouge Community College (Louisiana), Forsyth Tech Community College (North Carolina), Lorain County Community College (Ohio), Houston Community College (Texas) and Milwaukee Area Technical College (Wisconsin).

The coalition was announced as a commitment to action through the Clinton Global Initiative’s Action Network on Inclusive Economic Recovery and Growth.

“As the Covid-19 pandemic has painfully reminded us, far too many people have been left out and left behind for far too long,” said former President Bill Clinton, founder and board chair of the Clinton Foundation. “With this economic recovery, we have both a rare opportunity and a moral imperative to build an economy that is truly inclusive and give every person the chance to succeed. We know that when organizations are more inclusive, they are more successful. Community colleges by their very nature are inclusive and promote opportunity for all.”

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.