Impacting the Community by Investing in Students

Denver South-based Mikron provides machines, money and time in support of the region’s future workforce.

Mikron, a Swiss-headquartered company located in Arapahoe County, doesn’t just talk about the workforce gap it foresees in the advanced manufacturing sector. It’s proactively working to address it.  Over the past year, the company has been creating its future workforce by investing in the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus’ (CCIC) Advanced Manufacturing Pathway, providing area students an opportunity in to graduate into well-paying and fulfilling careers straight out of high school. No college debt required. 

What does that really mean, though? Creating its future workforce and investing in the future? That’s hard to pin down and quantify.

We like to think of the workforce continuum as a funnel. Students enter the funnel at the front end and at the opposite end they either exit into a company, or they remain unsure of what they want to do, or they pursue higher education. 

Mikron, at the back end of that funnel, realized that it needed to show up at the front of the funnel to really make an impact. With this realization they are now thoughtfully and systematically investing their time and money in local solutions that are showing strong return on investment (ROI).  At the CCIC campus, visitors see Mikron-sponsored machinery being used to provide hands-on training to the students in the pathway. This familiarizes them with not only operations and calculations but also the broader work environment and the critical work habits that they would need to succeed in working for the company. 

Mikron has invested in the CCIC with the understanding that this investment at the front of the funnel will pay dividends at the other end. And they aren’t only investing in equipment. They are investing their time, as well.  Mikron’s employees spend significant hours mentoring students, employing apprentices and providing internships that offer even more hands-on instruction. In the process they’re preparing these students for jobs at Mikron and other manufacturers in the region. As of February 2020, Mikron employed seven apprentices with six interns starting in June 2020

The reality is that many well-intentioned, well-funded, top-down workforce and talent development programs have failed to fully align students with company expectations, thereby also failing to meaningfully close the workforce gap. My suspicion is that they aren’t close enough to the problem – to the front or the back of the workforce funnel – to achieve their full impact.

While the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus has only been open six months and Mikron has yet to realize its full investment ROI, they see the promise in this exciting new model. Their willingness to invest in the workforce of the future – in the front and middle of the funnel, not at the end – indicates that they are confident in the value to their own company and in the impact they will have on the broader community.  

Learn more about Mikron at their website.