Jack E. Pfunder, Manufacturers Resource Center Chair, Manufacturing Council
The skills gap in manufacturing will not get fixed for a long time. That is the general consensus. So, if your manufacturing company is waiting on the sidelines for the problem to go away, it will be a long wait.
With the low unemployment rate and a steady stream of baby boomers retiring, most companies are having a hard time identifying employees they need for growth. Along with the “hard” technology skills, local businesses are seeking employees who are also adept at soft skills like communication and critical thinking. Finding people with both sets of skills might be a key reason why so many manufacturing jobs are going unfilled.
Growing demands from other industries in our region are also intensifying the competition for the skilled talent manufacturers need. The bottom line is simple. It is time for manufacturing companies to become more proactive in solving this problem or lose your competitive advantage.
One of the main solutions rests with the younger generation. Manufacturing companies can become partners with the career and technical schools and the community colleges to help those students understand the opportunities and advantages companies have to offer. Manufacturers can work with these schools to help with course design or educate teachers about their unique needs. As a manufacturing company, you should think about providing tours, mentorships, internships or apprenticeships for the students that will give you a leg up on hiring the best of the best.
Join us at the Chamber’s next Manufacturing Summit. We will brainstorm with our panel of experts about ways your company can influence the day-to-day training of these students and ways to inspire young people. Manufacturers can help students understand that STEM skills give them a strong foundation and can apply to all facets of your manufacturing environment. Now is the time to step up your game and get engaged.