Mar 9 Why I Moved to Indiana and Joined 180 Skills

Why I Moved to Indiana and Joined 180 Skills
180 Skills
Last month, I posted a blog on LinkedIn that was a personal reflection of why I love manufacturing. It shared a bit about what powers my passion and purpose. People. Every single day, I get out of bed wanting to support the people that make our lives easier and make this country great, our nation’s manufacturers.

I was overwhelmed by the response to the post and thought it was important to share the second half of the story.

When I announced my departure from the Manufacturing Institute, the first question I heard was, “Who is 180 Skills?” The second was, “Why 180 Skills?”

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from the movie Casablanca, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” Why, of all the opportunities presented to me over the past several years, was this the one I selected? Why did I pack up my life, my husband, and my house and move to Indianapolis, Indiana, to join 180 Skills as their new president? Because 180 Skills is leading the way with online technical education that brings manufacturers and individuals together to fill the skills gap.

The skills gap captures headlines and shows up in my news feed daily. A quick internet search of the manufacturing skills gap returns over 600,000 results.

Over the past decade, I have met with thousands of manufacturers who have shared their stories about the difficulties they have finding qualified workers. At an event in Connecticut several years ago, a manufacturer indicated that his current recruiting approach was to position someone at the entrance of the facility with a sandwich board advertising “Help Wanted.”

What is often missing when we discuss the skills gap are the stories of the individuals looking for great careers to help them support their families. The stories of those individuals have yet to be written. I consider them to be stories of hope.

I love manufacturing and the ability to connect individuals to great careers that can change lives. At a time in our history when the news seems to cover only what you could argue is the worst of us as a nation, I choose to focus on the best. What can I do today that will help create the next story?

According to the most recent national skills gap report published by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, over the next decade nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled and the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled…2 million stories never written.

I know companies that have spent years working with partners on this challenge. With enough time, every company can succeed, but time is our enemy. Manufacturers have jobs that are open today, and individuals and companies need support and an answer that helps lead the way.

At 180 Skills, we have proven that if you deliver education that aligns with employer-defined competencies, the learner gets the job. That’s what we call “Education in a Box.”

Starting today, we are releasing three different boxes that align with the needs of employers, educators, and the workforce system.
180 Skills Education in a box

For employers

Industry-defined manufacturing education in a box. Manufacturers can deploy pre-hire training, post-hire training, employee advancement, and employee enrichment.


For educators

Industry-defined, academically aligned manufacturing education in a box. Educators can deploy academic programs, workforce programs, and business and industry programs.


For workforce

Industry-defined, academically aligned, WIOA-ready manufacturing education in a box. Workforce professionals can deploy occupation-aligned education to support the needs of veterans in transition, disconnected youth, adults in need of retraining (IET), and dislocated workers.



We need your leadership and action. Follow our efforts as we unpack our boxes and work to create the next generation of makers.

Jennifer McNelly is president of 180 Skills LLC and serves as a national resource in closing the manufacturing skills gap. Jennifer has over 20 years of public and private sector experience in workforce development.
180 Skills