By Mark Core, Executive Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, Vermeer Corporation

The equipment world is full of incredible people doing incredible things. One of the easiest and most effective ways for the industry to help close the skills gap is to activate our greatest asset – our people. I’m confident the people in this industry are among the most committed, kindest, hardest-working and smartest group of professionals out there. From the shop floor to sales offices, we love what we do – and we are good at it.

That’s why leveraging this talent is one of the recommended tactics (or “lifts) in the new AEM Workforce Development Toolkit. The toolkit makes the case that finding support for the industry starts at the local level by building awareness of what we do. It outlines five key steps and offers sample materials to create a program that empowers employees to become ambassadors to local businesses, community groups and schools.

One way we do this at Vermeer is through our “Friends of Vermeer” program. We partner with our retired team members who still want to be a part of the equipment community. This group holds a lifetime of knowledge, as they spent their lives working to build this industry. Who better to carry that message to schools and mentor the next generation?

The employee ambassador approach is just one of the “lifts” in the new toolkit. Other ideas include targeting a younger audience through social media channels, adopting a school, or standing up a technology-related apprenticeship program. All of these “lifts” can adapt to fit individual needs and available resources. Most importantly, all would make an impact in exposing more students to the opportunities available in the equipment industry.

We’re drawn to equipment for any number of reasons. For me, it’s my life spent on the farm. You might share that heritage, or have ties to the construction industry. At some point, we recognized all this industry has to offer – the ability to live in the community we want, travel the world, provide for our family and enjoy what matters most to us. We’ve found fulfilling careers in the equipment industry.

Today’s generation wants career opportunities that offer all this – and more. They want to have purpose to their work. It’s critical that we show them how our equipment helps build, feed and connect the world. We have to show them that the equipment industry makes a difference. And as AEM’s Workforce Development Toolkit emphasizes, the people in this industry are one of the best ways to carry that message forward.

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