Some estimates predict that, over the next decade, as many as 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled, which emphasizes the importance of training the next generation of advanced manufacturing technicians. With that in mind, I was interested to recently read about Workshops for Warriors, a state-licensed, non-profit created to provide quality, accredited STEM programs and advanced educational opportunities for veterans, transitioning service members and wounded veterans, or Wounded Warriors. The educational programs are provided at no cost to the veterans, thanks to donations from, and partnerships with, companies that include Johnston Companies, JP Morgan Chase & Co. and SolidProfessor.


“In our region alone, more than 40,000 veterans transition out of military service each year,” says former U.S. Navy Officer Hernàn Luis y Prado, founder of Workshops for Warriors. “Unfortunately, many [veterans] face significant challenges—including access to living-wage jobs. Our mission is to make significant, lasting improvements in the lives of veterans and their families, and job re-training is a key to this transformation.”


The accredited school, which works to train, certify and help graduates get into advanced manufacturing careers, accepts only a select 50 students each semester. Each graduate earns third-party, nationally-recognized credentials accredited by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), Immerse2Learn, the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) and the American Welding Society (AWS).


To date, 421 students have graduated from Workshops for Warriors, earning a combined 2,350 nationally recognized credentials. Machining students earn training in Computer-Aided Design (SolidWorks), Computer-Aided Manufacturing (Mastercam), CNC milling and turning (on Haas Mills and Lathes), 3D printing (MarkForged) CNC laser (Amada), CNC waterjet (Flow), and Precision Measuring Tools (Starret). Welding students earn nationally recognized credentials from AWS in shielded metal arc welding, gas metal arc welding and flux cored arc welding.


WFW recently announced it’s teaming with Stratasys, a supplier of applied additive technology solutions, to provide advanced manufacturing job re-training and certification initiatives for students through a new additive manufacturing STEM-accreditation and training. Key to this program is the Stratasys Fortus 450mc 3D printer. Driven by Stratasys FDM technology, the solution meets demands of high-requirement production, such as faster speed, agility and design freedom for accurate and repeatable 3D printed prototypes, manufacturing tools and production parts.


WFW also announced last month that it has received a $1 million donation from Ariel Corporation, a manufacturer of separable reciprocating gas compressors. For Ariel, this training pipeline is a great way to find qualified, skilled machinists while also supporting veterans in their transition to civilian life, says Karen Buchwald Wright, President & CEO of Ariel Corporation.


“We’re so pleased to be able to support Workshops for Warriors, and we encourage manufacturers across the nation to take a look at the great candidates this program graduates,” Buchwald Wright says. “They come with all the fantastic training and experience received in their military service, combined with skills we’re looking for in a modern manufacturing operation. We couldn’t ask for more.”


What are your thoughts about training military veterans for advanced manufacturing jobs? Does your company have a program for training or recruiting veterans?