Understanding the Possibilities: New Employer Resources for Hosting High School Internships in Manufacturing

Access to internships in the manufacturing sector remains an obstacle to achieving equity and broader access for high school students under 18 which limits the ability of students, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to envision themselves in the manufacturing industry and establish valuable social connections that can guide their postsecondary planning. To successfully scale manufacturing internships, employers need to better understand the many ways in which they can engage students under 18 and be prepared to thoughtfully mentor young people. 

Here in Illinois, the Scaling Transformative Advanced Manufacturing Pathways (STAMP) initiative empowers high school students with valuable skills and experiences in the manufacturing sector. Aimed at fostering high-quality manufacturing pathways for students, STAMP is working with schools and employers in the cohort to address their challenges in creating effective career development experiences. A pivotal aspect of these pathways is providing students with paid and/or for-credit career development experiences, such as internships, lasting a minimum of 60 hours to align with Illinois’ College and Career Pathway Endorsement system.

Now, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and EdSystems are releasing new resources and guidance in the form of one-pagers aimed at aiding employers in effectively hosting high school interns while championing equity in placement and career progression. These resources were developed with input from an advisory committee comprising school district representatives and employers, including human resource professionals from manufacturing firms. 

The one-pagers aim to identify key challenges shared by the committee and provide clear guidance on addressing those challenges, ensuring a consistent and effective approach to student career development experiences. Concerns about hosting students under 18, unclear expectations for employer mentors, inconsistencies in student tasks across employers, a lack of assessment structure, and the absence of a clear post-experience path for students are all addressed. 

One-pager resources include:

The STAMP initiative’s collaborative approach, resulting in these comprehensive one-pagers, offers a valuable set of resources for manufacturing companies in Illinois and beyond. We hope communities will share these with their employers and collaborate on designing or enhancing their internship models. By applying, repurposing, and utilizing these resources, employers can help bridge the gap between education and industry and contribute to developing a skilled and prepared workforce, not only in manufacturing but also in various industries.

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