The Caterpillar E4Life program (formerly known as CHIP) partners with public schools in Peoria, IL to provide hands-on manufacturing experience to high school students, with a focus on innovation. Prior to the implementation of this program, Caterpillar spent time with students and potential participants to find out what barriers stand between them and the workforce.
Based on these conversations, Caterpillar created a program which would provide an umbrella of life skills such as mentoring, budgeting and financing, in addition to technical manufacturing skills such as welding, painting, and assembly. The modules focus on development of these various skill sets which will help students throughout their careers in manufacturing and other industries.
“Our goal is to expose them to what a manufacturing career is really about and to balance that with life skills training so they can take these skills with them no matter where their career takes them,” said Greg Tomlins, Engineering Manager.
Exposure to the manufacturing field includes teaching students about shift, compensation, and industry information. Additional resources and speakers are brought in to talk about topics such as financial literacy which provides real life simulations and applications.
“It’s mind-blowing how well they’ve adapted and learned the technical skills. Whether they want to go to college or enter right into the workforce, they’re ready,” said Andrew Rice, Manual Academy Teacher.
The E4Life program creates real career outcomes for students. Aaron Smith, a recent participant in the program and graduate in the class of 2018, said his career plans include working at Caterpillar full time and attending Illinois Central College to become a Mechanical Engineer.
Caterpillar plans to continue to develop the program and expand it to other divisions within the company to connect, develop and grow the leaders of tomorrow in both manufacturing and beyond.