As software providers, we focus largely on manufacturing (and distribution) clients, and so as a service to all we like to periodically report on trends and developments in the manufacturing sector, such as today’s post about a jobs program that helps Americans get back into manufacturing in a practical, no-nonsense kind of way.
A good start can be found at a workforce initiative in Louisville, Kentucky, called KentuckianaWorks, funded by several entities including local and federal agencies, along with JPMorgan Chase. Recognizing that “manufacturing jobs are here and growing in numbers” but that unskilled assembly-line work has been replaced by advanced manufacturing jobs, KentuckianaWorks made a large commitment to support training for manufacturing (and other) jobs by designing a five-week “Certified Production Technician” training program, along with a two-week variation, for displaced workers aged 18-60. Only a bit over half stick around to completion, but those who do find jobs quickly. The program has already placed nearly a thousand graduates at an average of about $13 per hour.
The skills programs focus on computing and technical skills, as well as basic math and problem-solving – in other words, just want manufacturing managers say they are looking for today. Meanwhile, over 80% of U.S. executives said in a recent survey that the skills gap will affect their ability to meet customer demand, and nearly as many claimed it would “make it more difficult for them to use new technologies and increase productivity,” according to a recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek.
Over the next decade, well over 3 million manufacturing jobs are expected to become available as boomers retire and economic growth spurs work opportunities. Those figures come from the Manufacturing Institute in Washington D.C. Yet a “skills gap” means that about 2 million of those jobs could go unfilled.
The KentuckyianaWorks program works with local manufacturers to help design their two courses. Companies who have worked with KW graduates say that their basic training “sets them apart from other entry-level candidates,” so that once hired, employers can help employees expand their knowledge and increase the likelihood of continued employment and promotions. Recruiters say that while not every hire works out, the success rate with these trainees is higher than with other hires.
In an era of increasing and often unrealistic clamor and hype about bringing back jobs, it’s programs like these that are helping to make manufacturing hiring a reality, and closing the gap between needed hires and the skills gaps too often found in potential hires.