Friday, May 2, 2008

The Labor Shortage Is a Perception Problem

Manufacturers, Trade Groups, Schools Must Work Together
A staff editorial in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls attention to a pressing issue for manufacturers and other B2B companies: the skilled labor shortage.

It’s a topic we’ve discussed here before—and one that, right now, several of our clients are taking a leadership role in addressing. They’re collaborating with technical schools and colleges, offering scholarships and internships, sponsoring recruitment fairs and more. In the interest of your company’s future, you may want to follow suit.

The baby boomers’ retirement is often cited as one of the leading causes of the intensifying skilled labor shortage. And rightfully so. But the real problem isn’t necessarily that there aren’t enough workers out there to replace them; no, for manufacturers in particular, the challenge is that potential workers are avoiding manufacturing careers.

Why? Because hey don’t think it’s a sophisticated path. Their parents have told them the jobs don’t pay well. And they’ve heard that all the manufacturing jobs are moving overseas.

These are all misperceptions. The truth is that manufacturing positions today often are at the forefront of innovation.

Clearly, manufacturers face a significant public relations challenge that must be solved promptly. Fortunately, two upcoming events in Milwaukee may help dispel some of the myths. ANTEC and the Plastics Encounter, set for May 4-6, will showcase the latest developments in high-tech manufacturing, helping advance current workers skills and improve recruitment of new workers.

We agree with the JS editorial: Manufacturers, educational institutions and trade organizations must work together more to help attract and retain workers. ANTEC and Plastics Encounter are two fine examples of such initiatives. Now it’s time for your company to join the cause.

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