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Education and Workforce Workforce Spotlight: Eastman CEO Mark J. Costa


This week’s #WorkforceWednesday features Mark J. Costa, Board Chair and CEO of Eastman and chair of the Business Roundtable Smart Regulation Committee. Eastman is pursuing an innovative talent development strategy that includes comprehensive, industry-driven programs to build critical capabilities for local manufacturing workers for the future.

Mark J. Costa explains:

“At Eastman, the skill and experience of our workforce drives our ability to innovate and compete. Our continued growth depends on developing a pipeline of highly-skilled local employees for the future. Eastman is fortunate to have community partners who share our passion and our commitment to investing in customized development programs that meet the needs of employers and workers in America’s vibrant manufacturing sector.”

Here’s a look at a few ongoing workforce development initiatives led by Eastman and CEO Mark J. Costa. Additional information can be found here.

The Problem

  • 2015 study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that nearly 3.5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs likely need to be filled through 2025. Yet, according to the study, 2 million of these jobs may remain unfilled due to the workforce skills gap in manufacturing — making it more difficult for U.S. manufacturing companies to compete, innovate and grow.

The Programs

In coordination with Northeast State Community College and a number of other partners, Eastman in 2008 helped launch the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), a public-private partnership to construct a Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing (RCAM).

RCAM started as a 26,000-square-foot training facility to help students learn advanced manufacturing skills. RCAM offers associate of applied science degrees and technical certificate programs in general technology, chemical process operations, electromechanical technology (mechatronics), electrical technology, welding/metal fabrication and customized continuing education training for regional manufacturers. In 2018, an additional 15,000-square-foot facility (RCAM Academy at Northeast State) was constructed and machine tool added to RCAM’s list of programs.

In addition to its leadership on RCAM, Eastman endowed a Workforce Development Scholarship Program that provides funding to Northeast State Community College students pursuing associate of applied science degrees and technical certificates in designated programs.

The Progress

The primary objectives of the AMP/RCAM were to (1) meet employers’ skilled labor needs, (2) promote advanced manufacturing careers, and (3) bring unique and differentiating workforce development capabilities to support regional economic development efforts. The program has delivered on these objectives in numerous ways. For example:

  • Job placement rates for RCAM-related programs are consistently near 100% and RCAM has been instrumental in meeting industry demand for “mechatronic” related skills.
  • RCAM’s academic program related enrollment has grown more than 3 times since opening in 2009 and over 1,000 individuals attend specialized industry training at the facility each year.
  • Through 2016–2017, completions (degrees/certificates) for students taking at least 12 credit hours at RCAM have surpassed 1,100 and, since 2012, cumulative outreach hours have also grown to over 15,000.

To learn more about workforce development initiatives led by Eastman and other Business Roundtable CEO member companies, please visit: https://www.businessroundtable.org/skills.