The manufacturing sector is trying to combat a growing problem being seen across a number of industries in the U.S. - a lack of applicants with the right qualifications on their resumes to fill thousands of job openings.
To address the mismatch of skills and training, the recently launched "Get Skills to Work" coalition will begin helping 15,000 veterans transfer their military experience into opportunities in advanced manufacturing.
Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and chief executive officer of General Electric, said the new organization will provide "fast track" training to former military members who may need additional education from local community and technical colleges. Working with area supply chains, companies and schools will collaborate to make sure that the certifications being offered meet the skills needed to fill jobs in order for veterans to be better equipped to compete for open positions.
The coalition will also work with partners to create a so-called "badging system" that will ensure employers do not overlook a qualified veteran who may have relevant experience on his or her resume. The program will also provide a toolkit designed to help manufacturers more effectively recruit and mentor veterans.
Meanwhile, a new survey by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has found that the country is starting to do a better job in closing the skills gap in the emerging manufacturing sector. However, the report found the U.S. is still short between 80,000 to 100,000 highly-skilled industry workers.
To advert a full-blown crisis, BCG found that the U.S. must do more to build awareness about the emerging field, which is beginning to recover from the economic slowdown thanks in part to reshoring, increased exports and labor demands.
The problem is very localized. It’s much less of an issue in larger communities, where supply and demand evens out more efficiently thanks to the bigger pool of workers, BCG senior partner Harold L. Sirkin stated. "Investment in training and skills development needs to be stepped up, but there's little reason to believe that the U.S. cannot remain on track for a manufacturing renaissance by 2020."
According to the report, manufacturers are having the hardest time finding skilled workers in smaller cities. BCG said that only 5 of the nation's 50 largest manufacturing centers appear to have a significant or severe skills gap including Miami, San Antonio, Baton Rouge and Charlotte. Occupations that are in the shortest supply including welding, industrial machinery mechanics and machinists.
For workers who have experience in the skilled trades, Forbes recently announced that Houston tops the list as the fastest growing city for manufacturing jobs. Houston has seen a 20.8 percent growth in the sector over the past 10 years. Overall, Texas now has 50% more manufacturing jobs than it did in 1990. Other cities that appear to be hiring skilled trade workers include Milwaukee, Seattle, Virginia Beach, Detroit, Hartford and Kansas City.
But despite the resurgence, Immelt said the industry is still in dire need of qualified workers. Across the country there are currently more than half a million job openings listed for advanced manufacturing jobs.
For job seekers looking to enter the field, you may need technical skills that include design and soft skills such as critical thinking and leadership abilities.
What we have to shift to is the kind of manufacturing that involves technology, involves automation, involves engineering skill sets, involves more complicated kinds of tasks things that actually require design, require looking at 3-D CAD drawings, require particular skills to make sure the quality is high, McKinsey market researcher Stefan Heck old Electrical Engineering Times.