How John Deere is Building Talent Pipelines, Right in its Local Communities

David Ottavianelli, Director of Workforce and Community Outreach at John Deere

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John Deere is on a mission to develop the next generation of STEM and manufacturing talent - not just for themselves, but to support businesses and entire communities surrounding their plants across the United States.

Recently, John Deere conducted a study to understand the major gaps in their workforce pipeline and what they must do to ensure they'll have the future workforce to keep up with demand. We sat down with David Ottavianelli, Director of Workforce and Community Outreach, to discover what that study revealed, and how the company has launched initiatives in response.

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • How John Deere addresses workforce shortages through data-driven strategies
  • The proven program that's inspiring high school & college students toward manufacturing careers
  • The importance of community-based registered apprenticeship programs
  • How to tap into nontraditional sources to find & train your manufacturing workforce
  • Why our military veterans make for great manufacturing employees, and how employers can leverage these unique strengths

Quotable Moments:

On why employers should hire veterans: "The company should consider this: technical expertise coupled with incredible leadership qualities and they're going to learn quickly. So if you're in a technical environment, they're going to learn. But then they're also going to add this layer of leadership, how to work with people, how to lead teams—extremely effective in manufacturing environments at all levels."

"What energizes me every day is the impact we're seeing and making on individuals and on our communities in driving some community-based programs to help that whole ecosystem to build a candidate pool."

"One of the key initiatives that we found in that workforce study - and this matched up nicely with superintendents and school administrators - was how do we really engage with the youth that are coming out of our high schools to do two things: one, to be informed of these opportunities at a younger age, and then also show them a structured path to get there."

3 Big Takeaways from this episode:

  1. The IGNITE program is an effective crash course in manufacturing: John Deere has supported IGNITE programs, which introduce high school and college students to careers in advanced manufacturing through hands-on learning and skill development. By exposing students to technologies like hydraulics, electronics, and CNC programming early on, the program inspires them to pursue careers in STEM fields and addresses future workforce needs.
  2. Community-based apprenticeship programs make it easy for students to transition into careers: John Deere’s registered apprenticeship programs, in partnership with local high schools and community colleges, are successfully attracting and training the next generation of manufacturing talent. These programs provide hands-on experience and structured career pathways, making it easier for students to transition into the workforce.
  3. Veterans bring valuable skills to manufacturing roles: Military veterans possess technical expertise and strong leadership qualities that make them ideal candidates for manufacturing jobs. John Deere’s involvement in the DoD SkillBridge Program supports veterans in their transition to civilian careers, offering mentorship and training that leverages their unique strengths for the benefit of the company and the industry.

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