Is your company struggling to recruit skilled workers? Are profitable projects sitting on the shelf for lack of able hands?
If a shortage of skilled workers is limiting the productivity or growth of your company, you are not alone. Managers and leaders in many industries are facing the same problem. The latest Skills Gap Report from the Manufacturing Institute found that 60 percent of manufacturers are having trouble maintaining adequate levels of productivity to meet demand, and that 40 percent are unable to implement new improvements.
Companies and businesses across the country are literally leaving revenues and profits on the table, and why?
All cite the same reason: a lack of available workers with the skills needed to get the job done.
Right now, there are about 6 million skilled jobs that remain unfilled in the U.S. By 2025, we are looking at a shortfall of 5 million workers with the necessary skills to do the jobs that exist. For American businesses to remain profitable and competitive, they will need a long-term approach, designed to keep pace with globalization and rapid technological change.
While government has a role to play in closing America’s skills gap, the ultimate solution is in the hands of American business. Mangers can do their part by identifying the future skill gaps in their company, and investing in effective recruiting and training programs. Here are three easy methods.
Build your own pipeline of talent
Some companies are tackling the skills-gap problem through apprenticeship or training programs. The payoff is highly skilled, well-trained apprentices ready to give back to the company by filling much-needed vacancies and taking on important leadership roles.
At Cooper Standard, an auto parts manufacturing plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, John Harris is one such promising first-year apprentice.
John joined the Air Force right after high school. After completing his service, John faced the challenge of starting a career outside of the military with very little work experience. The apprenticeship in mechatronics at Cooper Standard proved the ideal way to transition into civilian life and launch a career in a high-growth occupation. At the same time, Cooper Standard has gained a talented employee with true leadership potential, adding value to the whole enterprise. According to plant manager Warren Snead, “John has mechatronics in his DNA. You can tell when somebody’s programmed to do what they’re doing and it brings them that kind of fulfillment. You know you’ve hit a home run.”
Leverage the power of partnerships.
Another problem hiring managers face is a lack of basic employability skills in job applicants. Of managers surveyed by the Manufacturing Institute, 69 percent cited this is as a major problem, saying they’d rejected applicants who lacked fundamental skills in literacy, communication, mathematics, and work ethic.
One way to address this problem is by forging partnerships with government and educators. By collaborating with those who design curriculum, business leaders can help ensure that today’s youth are adequately prepared to transition into the world of work. There’s already evidence that this approach can help solve two related problems: skilled labor shortages and America’s high rate of youth unemployment and disengagement.
Nearly 15 percent of youth aged 16-24 are neither employed, nor in school. In some communities, this is breeding a culture of dependency and an underclass of “unemployables”—potentially a lost generation. It is also increasing pressure on public resources and is a huge burden on the economy. Innovative partnerships between schools and industry aimed at transforming curriculum, re-engaging young people in their education and career futures, and clear pathways to jobs will not only help reduce youth unemployment, it will strengthen companies, communities, and the health of the economy at large.
Equipping more young people with the precise skills your company needs will only increase the pool of talent your business can draw upon. Engagement, mentorship, and smart investment in training are all easy ways to help “skill up” the next generation that is so vital to our social and economic future.