L&M Radiator Presents at Northeast Minnesota Career and Tech Education Summit

At the summit, educators and manufacturing industry leaders came together to discuss workforce shortages and opportunities for young people to get involved in career-focused, skills-based training.

Duluth, Minnesota – On April 24, 2024, Kelly Hertling, Human Resources Supervisor at L&M Radiator, presented at the Arrowhead Manufacturers and Fabricators Association’s (AMFA) Northeast Minnesota Manufacturing Career and Technology Education (CTE) Teacher Summit in Duluth. Watch ABC WDIO’s video story of the event here.

Hertling met with educators from 20 school districts and industry leaders from across Northeast Minnesota to discuss best practices for engaging students who are interested in entering the workforce after high school graduation. The central questions the summit sought to answer were:

How do we do right by students who are interested in entering the workforce after graduation as opposed to attending college?

How do we connect those students to great opportunities to develop their skills and gain real-world experience?

How do we ensure every student has proper exposure to all kinds of careers, including those in the trades?

Conversation at the Summit brought to light many already existing career-based training opportunities offered by companies in northern Minnesota. The hope is that educators will not only bring these opportunities to their students but that they will provide feedback as to what kind of opportunities students are seeking.

“We have different manufacturing companies presenting to our educators and talking about different things that they do with educational partners,” said Shannon Malovrh, career and technical education grant administrator in an interview for ABC WDIO. “So, whether it’s an internship, whether it’s an opportunity for students to come in and tour the facility, whether it’s a job shadow experience, they are telling us how students can work with that.”

In the face of a nationwide shortage of skilled trades workers, summits such as this, where educators and industry leaders unite to explore how to effectively provide great career skills training to young people, are growing increasingly necessary.

“In today’s world, learning – through education, training, or experience – and working are no longer independent of each other,” said Hertling. “In an industry where innovation is critical to long-term success, L&M seeks employees who have the ability to continuously gain new learning opportunities throughout their careers to upgrade their skills and acquire new competencies that will be needed to meet customer needs today and tomorrow.”

L&M Radiator Provides Community-Based Skill Development

During the presentation, Hertling shared the details of L&M Radiator’s community-based training programs. L&M currently hosts three different training programs that are available for youth: the Work-Based Learning Program (WBL), the High School Career Pathways Partnership, and a paid internship program.

The Work-Based Learning Program occurs in partnership with Hibbing High School and Chisholm High School. Through the WBL, students in grades 9 through 12 who participate in the high school’s welding course visit L&M Radiator’s Hibbing facility during their spring semester (about 3 days of the week at L&M). Welders at L&M Radiator mentor the students and walk them through the product design process.

“Working directly with educators to provide a real-world work experience is a unique opportunity most high school students rarely get, but for some students, it can mean the difference between investing in college or starting a hands-on career right after high school,” said Hertling.

L&M Radiator also partners with the Applied Learning Institute (ALI) and Hibbing High School to bring students in to tour the L&M facility, explore different career paths, and experience working in various areas of interest.

“Through this pathway program, students earn credit toward their high school graduation, while providing our company an opportunity to showcase the benefits and careers we offer at L&M from administration to engineering and drafting,” Hertling said.

While some students experience what it takes to design and create an L&M “product,” other youth participating in the IASC NEXT Career Pathways Program get paid to work at L&M during the school year in the company’s welding and machining departments.

“IASC NEXT Career Pathways Program pulls students from schools across the west side of the Iron Range, from Keewatin to Grand Rapids,” said Hertling. “Students selected for the program report to our facility and learn what it is like to be on the job.”

At the end of their school year, IASC NEXT participants have the option to continue working with L&M in a summer help role or become full-time employees.

“It’s more than a company partnering with a youth program. We’re building a pipeline for students who want to start building their career after high school by learning on the job, instead of attending college,” Hertling said.

L&M also partners with Iron Range Engineering (IRE), Itasca Community College (ICC), and the Minnesota State University Mankato Bell Program to bring engineering internships to students throughout the school year.

In Yankton, South Dakota, where L&M has another manufacturing facility, the company has established relationships with local schools and crafted similar work-based learning programs.

“We often host students to work with us and earn credit toward graduation,” said Kristina Tunink, former human resources representative and now current quality training assistant with L&M Radiator’s Hibbing facility. “It’s really a perfect match because these students are not looking at college after high school, so their internship is really us working with them to ensure a smooth transition into an L&M career after graduation. In the meantime, they can explore our departments and roles to discover what’s best for them.”

Students and Educators: Learn More

Are you a student or educator interested in learning more about skill development and training programs at L&M Radiator? Contact Kelly Hertling at kelly.hertling@wabtec.com or 877-797-4501 or visit the L&M Radiator Careers page to learn more.

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