From the CEO: Filling the new-collar pipeline

AME | May 21, 2021


Around this time each year a new batch of graduates complete one chapter of their lives and enter a new phase that might include a new job, additional education, enlisting in the military, a gap year with a volunteer organization, or countless other opportunities.

The graduation ceremony, itself, is always exciting with family members and friends, celebratory speeches, and students dressed in caps and gowns. Everyone is full of energy and pride. Graduations are so much part of our life journeys that perhaps you even started hearing the song “Pomp and Circumstances” in your head as you’ve read this message.

Next week I will have the opportunity to participate in a different sort of ceremony, but one that is no less monumental. Monday is Signing Day for the most recent cohort of students in the New Horizons Regional Education Center’s The Good Life Solution Program. Located in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, the program is an employer-driven partnership for high school seniors taking classes in qualifying career clusters at New Horizons.

You may have seen signing day ceremonies where high school athletes declare their intention to continue their athletic career at a particular college. Similarly, at The Good Life Solution Program Signing Day, program graduates will accept their first job and enter the workforce with the foundational skills necessary to build a new-collar career.

Programs like this are important to industry, and leaders must advocate for educational and apprenticeship opportunities that prepare students for manufacturing and other vocational careers. The pipeline needs to be continuously filled, and it is important that we all encourage young people to pursue the types of trainings that lead to rewarding careers.

AME continues to encourage the LeanShoring™ of our supply chains. As companies bring suppliers closer to home and implement lean practices to promote efficiencies, we need workers who have the skills and know-how to make these processes stick. Likewise, as new technologies enter factories, hospitals and other workplaces, it is necessary to have a talent pipeline that develops people with the skills to work with automation, cobots and other advances.

This work takes new-collar skills. These are jobs that don’t necessarily require a college degree but do require technological knowledge, a foundation of math and science, and additional training through apprenticeships or credentialing programs like New Horizon’s The Good Life Solution Program.

As we continue through graduation season, I encourage you to think about how you or your organization can help support the organizations that feed our career pipeline. Are there existing public-private partnerships with schools that would benefit from your knowledge and experience? Could you mentor someone from the next generation of lean doers? Where might you leave a lasting mark on both a young person and industry?

As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.


P.S. Don’t forget to register for the virtual AME Defense and Government Lean Summit, June 8-9! You’ll hear keynotes from Arthur Athens and Brian Fields, tour Essex Industries and Sierra Army Depot, and hear presentations and panel discussions on cybersecurity and veterans in the workforce. Plus, summit recipients will get a $100 discount off their registration for the AME International Conference! Register now at