Ford tackles skills gap with new Detroit STEM academies

Posted on 6 May 2015 by Tim Brown
Ford expects to have 20 academies serving 7,000 students per year by 2020.

Ford Motor Company is increasing its efforts to stem (pun intended) the increasing skills gap in the US with the announcement of four new career academies in Detroit that will serve 1,400 students.

The Detroit career academies will join the nationally growing Powered by Ford STEM Academy network that Ford is building to train future engineering, manufacturing and IT professionals.

The company hopes its efforts will help better prepare students for jobs in the 21st century, and meet the growing need for workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“These academies are an innovative way to invest in our future workforce,” said Felicia Fields, group vice president, Human Resources, Ford Motor Company. “Not only do they help students make the connection between classroom learning and a career, they address our need for workers with strong technical backgrounds.”

Ford currently has four academies in three locations, Volusia County, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; and Utica, Michigan. When the Detroit academies are added, the network will be serving 2,800 students.

By 2020, Ford expects to have 20 academies serving 7,000 students in cities where the company has assembly plants, as well as elsewhere in the US.

The academies are a combined effort from Ford’s STEM educational programs and its national Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) initiative.

Ford NGL, which was launched by the Ford Motor Company Fund in 2006, provides financial support, coaching, mentoring and technical support to 20 communities in the US.

The United Automobile Workers union (UAW) also supports the academy effort on multiple fronts, including teacher externships, which bring teams of teachers into Ford facilities to gain first-hand workplace experience.

Academy students attend regular high school. However, instead of participating in general classes, they learn rigorous, standards-based core academics through projects grounded in engineering, information technology, and manufacturing. For example, students at the manufacturing academy in Jeffersontown High School in Louisville learn mathematics and science in the context of issues they would encounter in a manufacturing facility such as Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant.

Working through the Ford Fund, Ford Motor Company’s philanthropic arm, Ford is providing four Detroit schools with training and professional development to support instruction in STEM-themed programs.

Once final agreements are in place, the schools will have the opportunity to join the Powered by Ford STEM Academy network, where they will have access to a range of support, including student scholarships, equipment, mentors for student projects and professional development for teachers.

The four schools Ford is working with are:

• Detroit Leadership Academy – Detroit

• Frederick Douglass Academy for Young Men – Detroit

• Detroit Institute of Technology at Cody – Detroit

• Osborn Collegiate Academy of Math, Science & Technology – Detroit