Why We Have No Reason to Gripe

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A recent survey by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder describes the hardest-to-fill American jobs, basing their findings on the inability of employers to fill them after recruiting for 12 weeks or more.  The survey was conducted with 2,046 hiring managers and human resource professionals in the U.S.

From 2010 to 2013, the hard-to-fill jobs were: sales representative, machine operator/production worker, software developer, engineer, mechanic, IT manager/network administrator, truck driver, accountant, marketing professional, and nurse.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I look at this list, I see that the majority of those jobs “serve” manufacturing.  In today’s advanced manufacturing operations, all of these jobs play a part in design, production, operations, automation infrastructure, logistics, sales, and maintenance.  The only job that doesn’t clearly fit is nurse.  So it’s no wonder that manufacturers are having trouble finding new hires.  But it belies a skills gap in the sense that the problem lies in “the numbers” not with the skills. “Although the recession created an abundant pool of readily-available, unemployed talent that still exists today, employers are struggling to find new employees for technology-related occupations…,” said Brent Rasmussen, President of CareerBuilder North America.

And while education and training has often been behind the skills curve over the last decade, it is now speedily ramping up and providing lots of opportunities for technical skills training.  For example, Danville Community College in Danville, Virginia provides nanotechnology technician degrees; Fox Valley College in Wisconsin offers digital fabrication; El Camino College in California offers advanced aerospace, and Edison Community College in Florida offers photonics.  All of these schools (and they are simply a handful of the colleges nationwide that offer advanced manufacturing degrees or certificates) are engaged in the accelerating need for technically skilled workers.  They work with consortia of employers to help develop curricula and internship opportunities, and are rapidly expanding America’s pool of technical talent.

As manufacturers, the best way to benefit from this expanding pipeline is to get involved with it.  Head over to your local community or technical school, and ask about workforce training.  If they don’t offer what you need, ask them to consider it and to pull together the other manufacturers in the community who could also benefit.  As the old saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all boats”.  Don’t be left hanging when that tide goes out. Start with these two websites and get going American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and ATE Centers

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Stacey Wagner

Guest blogger Stacey Jarrett Wagner has more than 20 years of experience in workforce development, conducting research and providing strategic thinking and technical assistance on workforce development issues.

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