The skills gap is not a new topic for us here at Ohio Valley Manufacturing. Just as it is a double-sided coin for the industry at large – manufacturing jobs created by strong growth, but few skilled workers to fill them – so have we discussed the issue in the same light. As this article describes, with 2.5 million new jobs slated to open up in coming years to due retirement alone, it’s definitely not something to talk about anymore without action as well. Solutions are plentiful from all corners, but there some interesting ideas discussed in the article. Let’s look at a few key concepts:
Education: Not, specifically, the existing education system. Vocational training is approaching an all-time low, yet it is critically important for filling these positions. Much of the duty lies with manufacturers themselves to make sure that educational programs are offered – whether through the school system or not – to properly train the next generation of manufacturers.
Don’t find employees – make them. A program that could quite possibly prove to be revolutionary is outlined in the above piece. Rather than searching out trained, traditionally “qualified” recruitees, a new program is locating those with the most potential to learn a new skill or trade, and placing them in training programs. The program centers around a specific group with the greatest success in that area: U.S. military veterans. Whether through the program or not, it provides a new angle for manufacturers to take in seeking their next generation of workers. Someone who has shown themselves to be a hard worker and a quick study may likely be easier to find than someone with the specific training that is thought to be required.
We look forward to engaging with the next wave of manufacturing through these methods and others.
The Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) recently unveiled a major new directive in continuing the resurgence of manufacturing in the United States. Titled The Manufacturing Mandate, it is a sweeping plan outlining just which areas of economic and industrial development are required to allow manufacturing and, by extension, the U.S. economy, to achieve their full potential in the global marketplace. The entire document is well worth your time to read, but here is a summary of the three most important factors on the manufacturing front.
Innovation. When both the perception and the actuality of American manufacturing began to decline, price was not the only issue at hand. A major problem was that innovation, too, was heading overseas, with many new products, concepts, and methods being developed and perfected elsewhere. Innovation in manufacturing leads to innovation across other industries. Keeping research and development and manufacturing itself hand-in-hand allows for breakthroughs that may not have otherwise occurred.
Global Competitiveness. Manufacturing comprises nearly 60% of U.S. exports – nearly $ 1.7 trillion. It only makes sense for officials at all levels to create an environment supportive of manufacturing. Infrastructure and other cost burdens can make it difficult to thrive as compared with other business sectors, so special care must be taken that the needs of all parties are addressed – manufacturers, workers, and communities.
“Smartforce.” This concept is the successor to simply developing a workforce. The manufacturing innovation mentioned above makes it necessary to ensure that workers are gaining the proper skills to be a productive part of the new manufacturing landscape. There are more than 11 million manufacturing employees in the U.S. (and more than 7 million people employed in ancillary roles), but 310,000 job openings remain. Training must be provided, and the benefits of employment in one of these positions must become more apparent.