The Forging Industry Educational and Research Foundation (FIERF) works to connect educational institutions and the forging industry through future workforce development, promoting the advantages of forged products, facilitating technology transfer and promoting applicable research.

Industry engagement with education providers at the local and regional levels results in the greatest impact in the development of critical skilled labor. Forgers are in competition for the best and brightest of our communities, and becoming the employer of choice is critical for attracting these future employees. Industry engagement with educators and institutions showcases employment opportunities and career paths, gives feedback on required skills, and is an opportunity to share topics of interest and seek solutions to industry needs.

Opportunities exist at each educational level to engage students and teachers. Engaging at middle-, high- and vocational-school levels through Manufacturing Day events, community career events and ASM Materials Camps for teachers spreads the word in your local community of opportunities in your company. Participating in these events will bring awareness and make your organization an employer of choice with your future workforce of operators and maintenance employees.

Build on this model at local community colleges with plant tours and outreach to students with internships or summer jobs to make your company known to those who may be working toward an associate degree or skill certifications. These graduates will be your future skilled labor, maintenance and automation team members.

At the university undergraduate level, take part in a FIERF Technology and Workforce Development Summit to meet faculty and students interested in the forging supply chain. These relationships and presentations to student groups will grow interest in your company. Provide a plant tour, offer co-op or internship opportunities, and sponsor a Senior Capstone Project to be seen as an employer of choice. Upon graduation with their bachelor’s degrees, these students will be your future engineers and designers.

Graduate students perusing a master’s course of study will also benefit from plant tours, company presentations and co-op or internship jobs. At this stage in their educational careers, these students have the expertise to work in conjunction with professors and industry representatives on industry-funded research and thereby gain hands-on training to develop new technologies. These students will be your future engineers, research-and-development talent and technical leaders.

Some of these students may go on to pursue doctoral degrees. These men and women play an important role as subject-matter experts. They will take their knowledge of the forging process and become the future educators and technical leaders for the industry.

The payoff for this engagement is a pipeline for future workforce development. Visit for more workforce development ideas. Please contact FIERF at or 216-862-6967 for additional information.

This article is based on presentations made by Suzanne Tkach at the Forging Industry Technical Conference and FIA Fall Meeting of Members. Tkach, owner of Tkach Consulting, is a member of the FIERF Board of Trustees and a passionate supporter of technology and education in the forging industry.