Manufacturers Dig Deep on Job Quality and Youth Apprenticeships

Sector partnerships lean into workforce issues with an eye towards solutions.

On Thursday, May 16th, the Boulder Area Manufacturing Sector Partnership convened at Medtronic. During the meeting, presentations on job quality and youth apprenticeships informed small group discussion around how manufacturers are applying these tools.

Manufacturing Sector Partnership -- MedtronicManufacturing Sector Partnership -- Medtronic

The meeting consisted of presentations from:

Erin Young, Employer Coach at CWDC 

  • Job Quality Presentation
    • Emphasizing job quality within your business can improve recruitment, retention, and overall employment, giving you a competitive advantage in hiring and keeping skilled workers
    • Using skills-based hiring in the recruitment process is an aspect of job quality critical to reducing bias, expanding the talent pool, and increasing candidate quality
    • Features of a good job include providing proper wages and benefits, growth opportunities, safe working conditions, and a sense of belonging. This can look different between small businesses and larger companies. 

CJ Renaud, Director of Business Partnerships at CareerWise Colorado 

  • Youth Apprenticeship Presentation
    • Apprenticeships differ from internships in that they are a long-term investment, provide positive ROI, workforce integration, demonstrated proficiency, and work-based training
    • CareerWise utilizes an equity-first approach through prioritizing diverse talent, providing employer training related to DEI and mentoring support, and focusing on equitable outcomes based on continuous improvement.
    • There are over 9 pathways and occupations related to advanced manufacturing and maintenance technology in the CareerWise catalog including maintenance tech, CNC machinist, and quality control tech

After hearing from our speakers, the group engaged in small group discussion around how job quality and youth apprenticeships can help address current challenges faced by manufacturers.

Manufacturing Sector Partnership -- MedtronicManufacturing Sector Partnership -- MedtronicManufacturing Sector Partnership -- MedtronicManufacturing Sector Partnership -- Medtronic

The following feedback was provided from industry partners:

  • Job Quality
    • Job quality is currently customer defined, employer qualified, and data driven. Manufacturers currently measure job quality through methods like stay interviews, job ladders with a nine-month trial period, and organization-wide health surveys.
    • Employers are using strategies such as extended paid family leave, volunteer days, flexible schedules, dropping THC requirements, and mentorships to enhance job quality
    • To better implement job quality practices, businesses expressed the need for defined metrics and direct feedback, as well as a step-by-step program activation process
  • Youth Apprenticeships
    • Businesses are struggling to find entry-level employees with soft skills, particularly related to communication and time management
    • Concerns from employers related to implementing youth apprenticeship programs include legal liability, culture adaptation, and resource constraints
    • Partners like Lexmark International and PTA Plastics have seen success in implementing youth apprenticeship programs

Thank you to Medtronic for hosting this convening and providing a tour of their Boulder facility! 

About the company: with more than 95,000 people across 150 countries, we innovate solutions that treat 70-plus health conditions, from Parkinson’s to diabetes. And while our healthcare technologies transform the lives of two people every second, expect more from us. In everything we do, we are engineering the extraordinary.


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