The Manufacturing Institute, the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, announced a three-year partnership with Union Pacific Railroad to shrink the workforce gender gap by inspiring more women and young people to pursue modern industry careers.

The $3 million grant from Union Pacific—one of the nation’s largest freight railroads—will fund a new initiative called “Careers on Track.” The initiative will support workforce development and career solutions for women and will include creating a digital STEM curriculum, a virtual 3D-mapping STEM experience and a STEM micro-grant program for women.

The MI will also leverage existing programs, such as Heroes MAKE America, the STEP Women’s Initiative and its youth engagement platform, to launch a digital campaign to bring awareness to the workforce gender gap and inspire the next generation of workers.

“There are nearly 500,000 job openings right now in manufacturing and millions more expected over the next decade, and closing the gender gap is a critical part of meeting this incredible need. That’s why we are excited to work with a partner like Union Pacific that shares our vision of supporting the women’s workforce of tomorrow while advancing the women’s workforce of today,” said MI Executive Director Carolyn Lee. “This partnership will bolster the MI’s existing efforts and allow us to accomplish even more through ‘Careers on Track.’”

“We have a unique opportunity to address today’s workforce crisis head-on. At Union Pacific, our goal is to double the number of women in our workforce within the next 10 years, and this partnership with the MI is a crucial step toward that goal,” said Union Pacific Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer Beth Whited. “We are inspired by the MI’s track record of innovation and look forward to working closely with them over the next three years.”

Union Pacific has a long history of providing support to local organizations through its robust Community Ties Giving Program. Focused on building safe, prosperous, vibrant communities, the program’s workforce development efforts focus on putting youth on the right track, raising awareness of middle skills jobs like those offered by Union Pacific and educating and preparing young adults for career readiness. This partnership with the MI directly helps address these goals.

“Careers on Track” will serve as a national model on how to empower and inspire women and youth, particularly girls, to explore modern career paths by changing the perception of what an industry career means in 2021 and beyond, as well as help women build networks and develop skills that help them excel personally and professionally.

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