The genesis of ATEAM occurred after a 2007 workforce study revealed that San Antonio manufacturing had been “growing rapidly in spite of, not because of, the availability of skilled labor.” The study highlighted that major challenges were on the horizon at both local and national levels due to the shortage of younger workers entering the highly skilled manufacturing trades. In response, SAMA resolved to confront this workforce gap and form an independent 501(c) (3) that would be totally focused on this issue. That organization was initially formed under the name SAMA Workforce Development Corporation but was later revised to ATEAM, Alliance for Technology Education in Advanced Manufacturing.
John Dewey, then Chairman of SAMA, and Bill Cox led the association’s efforts to establish a new non-profit entity that would be able to attract tax deductible contributions with the 501(c) (3) status and to also connect with national initiatives that addressed the growing gap in our workforce. At this time there was an emerging national effort led by the National Association of Manufacturers, NAM, and their sister organization, the Manufacturing Institute. ATEAM joined this national movement and became a member of the “Dream It! Do It!” campaign,
representing manufacturers in the San Antonio region.
Our key regional allies establishing this initiative were local SAMA partners Workforces Solutions Alamo and Alamo Colleges. Their support and
contributions were instrumental in forming this new entity and seeing it launched. The appropriate bylaws were drafted, a board was formed and ATEAM was initiated.
The key Purposes of the organization were defined as:
- To redefine the image of manufacturing to young people and their parents, their educators, and the community in a manner that increases the number of young adults and other members of the workforce who pursue manufacturing careers;
- To close the skills gap for regional manufacturers by aligning educational and workforce training resources with the most pressing demands of area industry; and
- To establish and promote regional collaborations in support of manufacturing and manufacturing careers as part of an economic development initiative.
In the early stages of ATEAM’s formation, a focus group study was performed to sample the San Antonio youth’s thoughts on careers in manufacturing. In most cases, young people were totally unaware that San Antonio possessed more than one employer in manufacturing (Toyota) and had no idea of the broad range of opportunities that existed here. Most never had any awareness or even remote thoughts of careers in manufacturing, and those who did assumed the jobs were nothing but dirty, dull, and dead-end jobs that were most likely dangerous.
ATEAM resolved to set the record straight and launched a campaign to reach educators, parents and students.
The Key Messages ATEAM delivers are:
- US manufacturing is still is a huge provider of global manufacturing and an important part of San Antonio’s
- Manufacturing jobs pay 11% higher than the average business in San Antonio.
- The higher paying jobs in manufacturing require a good education for the skilled technical jobs (low skilled jobs are either automated or have moved to countries with very low wages).
Each year, ATEAM continues to reach hundreds of students and their influencers, parents and teachers, with tours, presentations and demonstrations of manufacturing performed in our region. More and more employers are recognizing the impact of the very predictable demographic labor shortfall that occurs as seasoned baby boomers exit the workforce. However, manufacturers also face the additional challenges of a generation that already has a poor impression (or no impression at all) of manufacturing careers. Even worse, the manufacturer is further challenged with student education levels falling while today’s manufacturing technology necessitates an even more sophisticated workforce. ATEAM resolves to narrow this gap and improve these disadvantages.