Cold Spring, Minn. – (April 23, 2019) – Coldspring® – the leading quarrier and fabricator of natural stone and bronze manufacturing in North America – recently hosted U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.) at Coldspring headquarters and demonstrated the company’s unique approach to help close the worker shortage gap. On April 18, Emmer toured Coldspring manufacturing operations and discussed the future of business and economic development with members of Coldspring’s leadership, President and COO Greg Flint, VP of Sales and Marketing Dan Rea, Chief Financial Officer George Schnepf, Quarry Materials Director Steve Konop and Director of Human Resources Scott Piecek. During his visit, Emmer learned about Coldspring’s engagement and deeper partnership with ROCORI Schools, St. Cloud Technical and Community College and more recently St. Cloud State University. As part of that engagement process, Coldspring’s leadership explained how VEX robotics is enabling this engagement.
“During my time at Coldspring, I was impressed to learn about their commitment to our future workforce by sponsoring robotics teams, which instills skills for the jobs of tomorrow,” says Emmer. “Our industries are ever-changing, and our workforce must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to succeed. I was inspired to see both Coldspring’s innovative work, and their dedication to prepare the next generation for the challenges we will face.”
The National Association of Manufacturers estimates a 2.4-million worker shortfall by 2028. Like many manufacturing companies, Coldspring faces the challenge of finding and recruiting new talent. To address this challenge, Coldspring has chosen a unique approach, utilizing VEX robotics as the platform to work directly with leadership of the schools that are developing the future talent.
“By engaging with the schools through VEX we are actively working with the schools to develop tomorrow’s workforce. In order to enable this partnership we are providing financial support for the robotics teams and in turn Coldspring is helping young people to learn about the many opportunities that are available in a manufacturing career, effectively increasing the quantity of people pursuing those careers.” says Greg Flint, Coldspring’s President and COO. “While there are other methods to create awareness, we believe VEX robotics is one of the most cost effective ways to create awareness for the opportunities while simultaneously developing both the hard and soft skills they will need to thrive in a manufacturing environment, and it’s our privilege to support their efforts.”
VEX Robotics offers students an exciting platform for learning about areas rich with career opportunities spanning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Through robotics competitions, young people develop technical abilities as well as teamwork, communication and leadership skills. What’s more, robotics teams are similar to manufacturing operations in that there are many roles to fill to make a successful team.
“People often view a robotics team to be primarily focused on the technical aspect of designing and operating the robot, but there’s much more. The soft skills of communication, collaboration, problem solving and teamwork are developed and strengthen throughout the build process, ending in a fun and rewarding competition with peers from the area and around the country.” says Rea. “Likewise, there are so many roles in a manufacturing company like ours that require the same soft and hard skills. The opportunities range from customer facing roles to CNC machine operation, drafting, accounting, human resources, and many more.”
While Manufacturing opportunities are available for those who choose to pursue a four-year degree, so too are opportunities for those pursuing two-year or vocational training and apprenticeship training.
“We want students and their parents to know that a two-year or technical education can provide a very fruitful, fulfilling, and thriving career in manufacturing,” says Piecek. “Today’s high-tech manufacturing operations offer a meaningful, long-term career path that students are seeking.”