Manufacturing Works Blog

How Cleveland Manufacturing Companies Can Benefit From Students Seeking a Gap Year

By Brianna Schultz - June 25, 2020

With so much uncertainty in the world right now, it’s difficult to make plans that are further out than next weekend. Graduating high school seniors may be feeling this pressure more than anyone.

While the rest of us are worried about vacations and birthday parties, those who are planning to go to college are worried about their entire college experience. According to this CNBC article, colleges and universities are seeing as many as 75 percent of incoming freshmen interested in deferring enrollment/scholarships to take a gap year—a semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and prior to a career or post-secondary education.

Gap years typically consist of national service, travel, and/or internships/work experience. So why should Cleveland manufacturing companies care about this?

Manufacturing can’t be left out of this conversation. In an industry where there is STILL a skills gap, taking advantage of a gap year program could be a great opportunity for many Cleveland manufacturing companies. Here is how this could work:

  1. You hire a graduated senior for a year in an entry-level position.
  2. Train them through formal certifications (OSHA, Certified Production Technician, etc.) and on-the-job experience.
  3. Have them return to your company after college as an engineer, accountant, HR specialist, etc.—all with a bit of relevant experience under their belts.

As an employer, you’ll create a connection with a young professional who may even be able to continue working for you part-time when they do start college, or at least during their school breaks. Keeping up with this relationship can increase the chances of the student wanting to come back and work for you after graduation.

For students, working in a manufacturing plant for a year and getting the chance to learn about the various functions will not only allow them to save money, but it will also make their eventual schooling more relevant and give them the experience to make themselves more marketable. Making students aware of the manufacturing jobs and career paths that are available is an important part of closing the skills gap that exists.

On a personal note, I took my own gap year many years ago and can tell you that it was not only a personal learning journey for me, but it also gave me very relevant experience that helped me land my first “real job.” I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world.

On the flip side, I’ve also worked for an organization that hosted people taking advantage of a gap year. While it required some training and investment on our part, I’m still amazed by the impact that these young people had in one year with us. Some even stayed on for a second year or longer.
If you are a manufacturer or a student interested in exploring what a gap year in manufacturing could look like, I’d love to chat. With years of experience facilitating internships and apprenticeships in manufacturing, Manufacturing Works is set up to help facilitate experiences like these. To explore with me, reach out at



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