July 18, 2012
BRIDGING THE GAP
Published in Gwinnett Business Journal – July 18, 2012
According to Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), a majority of U.S. manufacturers are hiring. However 67 percent of those looking for full-time staff are having difficulty recruiting for jobs due to the ‘skills gap.’
Supporting research was revealed at the June 24 Manufacturing Summit that kicked off SHRM’s 2012 Annual Conference and Exposition in Atlanta. At this workshop, SHRM brought together manufacturers, educators and officials from the U.S. Department of Labor to talk about the skills gap issue facing American employers and potential solutions to meet hiring challenges.
“The skills gap can work to slow overall job growth,” said Mark Schmit, SHRM’s vice president for research.
At the HunterMaclean’s Critical Issues Forum in May, Tricia Pridemore, executive director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, described the skills gap as one of the biggest workforce development obstacles facing Georgia companies. Governor Nathan Deal’s office recently decided to identify areas in the state where the skills gaps are the widest and to design solutions to fit those gaps. Pridemore reported that statewide, the biggest needs are for truck drivers, maintenance workers, carpenters, industrial painters, plumbers and electricians. She explained that for every four skilled laborers who are retiring, Georgia is only producing one replacement.
Gwinnett County, now a Georgia Certified Work Ready Community, has capitalized on this statewide initiative that establishes a purposeful link between industry and education to create a regional talent pool. Individuals may prove their work readiness to potential employers by earning certification that measures core skills and work habits. In turn, authorized work ready job profilers assist local employers by analyzing positions to identify tasks and skill levels workers will need. Additionally, work ready gap training enables career growth and continued on-the-job success.
“At Gwinnett Tech, we’ve actually seen modest increases in our professional development course enrollments and customized training opportunities,” said David McCulloch, vice president of economic development for Gwinnett Technical College. “But what’s interesting is that a lot of this growth has been a result of changes our business clients have made to the roles and responsibilities of existing staff versus hiring and training new employees.”
He explained that due to downsizing and an accelerated use of new technologies, employers have had to make constant on-the-fly adjustments to business processes in order to meet rapid increases in demand for their goods and services. In doing so, they’ve literally morphed their employees into new jobs, often without even realizing it.
“These employees may or may not have the critical skill sets needed to effectively perform in their newly-adjusted roles,” continued McCulloch. “Once we help employers better understand these changes, we can customize training to strengthen and reinforce the critical skills workers need.”
Across the country, SHRM’s research revealed mathematics and writing in English are the basic skills gaps common among manufacturing job applicants. The most prevalent skills gaps across all industries are critical thinking, work ethic and written communications.
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