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A Shot in the Arm for the Workforce

Wendy Mackie.

Wendy Mackie.

The Marine Retailers Association of the Americas announced that Wendy Mackie will lead the operations of the its Educational Foundation as director of workforce and foundation development.

The 501(c)(3) foundation is the arm of MRAA that provides financial support and promotion of education, training and professional development in the industry. Mackie brings a long history of successful workforce development, non-profit leadership, alternative education and entrepreneurship.

In 2006, Mackie aligned her work with the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association to create and implement best-practice training programs for youth and new workers. In 2014, she spearheaded the development of the Composites Alliance of Rhode Island to better serve the industry’s manufacturing sector.

In 2018, MRAA and the National Marine Manufacturers Association turned to Mackie to author a critically needed industry strategy for growing the workforce. The “10+1” strategy included local, state and national tactics that businesses can use to strengthen their workforces. The “+1” represented a recommendation that the industry appoint a leader to oversee national workforce efforts.

“The hiring of Wendy Mackie is that strategy coming to life,” MRAA president Matt Gruhn said in a statement. “For years, our members have struggled to find, hire and develop their workforce — the most critical part of their business. Wendy Mackie brings the highest level of expertise in workforce development that our industry knows.”

The MRAA Educational Foundation board endorsed Mackie’s comprehensive plan, which calls for a focus on the development of regional sectoral partnerships to address the industry’s most pressing demand-driven workforce challenges topped by the shortage of engine technicians. The creation of these community-based coalitions mirrors best-practice programming supported by state and national funding streams. By instituting this model in regions across the country, the boating industry will have access to the workforce it needs, where and when it needs it.

“The key is to tap into the dedicated workforce development funding streams in each area to ensure the training programs developed are sustainable,” Mackie said. “The money is there; we just need to show there is demand for the workers and that our industry’s employers will hire them. That’s where MRAA’s focus will give us the platform for success.”

With her years of participation in regional and local marine trade associations, including leadership in the National Marine Trades Council, Mackie is recognized as the industry’s leading expert on the workforce development system.

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