The lack of a skilled workforce continues to be a big challenge for many industries in the U.S., including Connecticut. There are many factors contributing to this growing skills gap – the retirement of thousands of Baby Boomers every year; a decline in the teaching of technical skills in public schools; and the less-than-peachy perception that some of the industries have – which makes it that much harder to attract workers to their fields.
Consider these statistics:
- The construction industry will need to fill about 7 million jobs over the next 8 years.
- In a recent technology skills survey conducted by the Career Advisory Board at DeVry University, 57% of employers said it’s common for job applicants to lack the technical skills needed for success in their field.
- 99% of manufacturers that participated in the 2017 Survey of CT Manufacturing Workforce Needs said they expect to grow their workforce in the next 3 years and will need of more than 13,000 skilled workers by the end of 2018. The positions needed range from entry-level production workers to highly-skilled engineers.
For the state of CT, the skills gap is hitting the hardest in the manufacturing sector. Between Baby Boomers who are retiring and Millennials who are exiting the state to pursue new opportunities, it’s an issue that our government, schools and manufacturers can work together on to help improve and strengthen our economy. Experts have weighed in over the years and some of the top recommendations for remedying the skills gap quandary are below.
For the state of CT, the skills gap is hitting the hardest in the manufacturing sector.
Train existing workforce. Manufacturers need to look at developing their own workforce like they once did – investing in apprenticeship and training programs that teach workers the required skills for their most critical jobs. Bonuses and higher wages may need consideration to attract employee interest and keep them on the job once they’re trained.
Engage youth. Many of our younger generation shy away from pursuing employment in manufacturing or in other industries that don’t appear to have the glitz and glamour of other employment opportunities. The reality is many of today’s manufacturers run modern, clean, highly-advanced operations that require much more than basic, entry-level skills. The opportunities are plentiful – especially in CT for markets like energy, defense and aerospace. Education and industry sectors need to join forces and find creative ways to excite and attract the younger generation of workers to the world of skilled trades.
Strengthen workforce development partnerships. Partnerships between state and local government, educational institutions, and manufacturers are another key to lessening the skills gap in CT. With the help of organizations like the CT Technical High School System, CT Dept of Labor, CT Dept of Economic & Community Development, and CT Business & Industry Association, initiatives are in place to help advance the state’s mission of strengthening our workforce. And the more individuals and groups we can assemble to further advance the mission, the better.
Change the perception. Once and for all, workers need to think differently about manufacturing. There is a decades-long, negative perception that manufacturers can offer nothing more than old, dirty, dangerous work to employers. Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As mentioned earlier, many manufacturers operate ultra-modern facilities that are clean, comfortable and require a unique mix of job skills that could go beyond the production floor and into other departments such as purchasing, marketing, service and sales.
Finding good candidates for skilled trades is a challenge that many CT manufacturers will likely contend with for years to come. Our experienced team of recruiting specialists can help you find the area’s best talent for your organization – from assemblers and skilled machinists to quality supervisors and manufacturing managers. Contact us today to learn more.