Employers Need to Up Training to Fill Manufacturing Jobs

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A forecast by University of Michigan Economists George Fulton and Don Grimes predicts that advanced manufacturing will add more than 4,000 jobs by 2015, but will employers be able to fill those positions? After all, a regional survey of advanced manufacturers has determined that today’s biggest challenges include a lack of young workers to fill available jobs and insufficient training programs to meet current demand.

The six-month Skills Needs Assessment Project — results of which were released today — surveyed 150 advanced manufacturers in Oakland County and surrounding counties to help understand why advanced manufacturing jobs were vacant and how to fill them.

“Employers have told us they’re ready to hire, they want to hire, but they can’t find enough qualified applicants to fill these high paying jobs,” L. Brooks Patterson, executive of Oakland County, said in a statement. “These are jobs that will go unfilled unless we find qualified workers.”

Among the most difficult jobs to fill are mechanical engineers, followed by tool and die makers and machinists. Advanced manufacturing positions like these require strong basic and technical skills — regardless of education level.

Gibb says that rather than training new employees, employers tend to hire workers from other companies: “We have to quit trading employees like baseball cards and get them interested in these careers like those available in advanced manufacturing.”

In addition to job applicants needing increased technical skills, the report also recommends employers need better recruitment techniques.

“Some companies are still putting a sign out in front of the business looking for employees instead of using social media or more modern techniques,” Matthew Gibb, deputy executive of Oakland County, said in a statement. “We’ve got to do better.”

For the full results of the survey — which identifies the top 14 jobs in advanced manufacturing and the median salary, educational requirements, and the number of job openings expected through 2018 — visit advantageoakland.com.

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