In our ninth straight month of job cuts, employers slashed more jobs this September—159,000—than they have since 2003.
But while job cuts may be on the short-term agenda, many are still looking forward with concern to the post-boomer years and making plans to shore up their workforce now.
Such is the case in northeast Wisconsin, where layoffs are affecting area manufacturing families. In this region, manufacturing accounts for 24% of the work force and 30% of the income. So when area paper mills and machine shops shut down, people begin to feel concerned for the health of the region’s economy overall.
And plenty of area manufacturing leaders are concerned—but not about closing their doors. Despite layoffs at some companies, others are looking five to 10 years forward and hoping they’ll have enough skilled people to keep the machines going and stay competitive.
Paul Rauscher, owns EMT International, a small 80-person equipment manufacturer for the paper and printing industry. Rauscher believes a shortage of qualified workers poses the greatest future threat to his business—more than even foreign competition.
“We manufacturers have to get people, and especially young people, to realize that careers in manufacturing are good for their future and that many of the manufacturing jobs of today are high-tech and high pay,” he said in a Q&A with the local Green Bay Press Gazette.
Here’s what Rauscher observed about industry needs compared to output at the area’s regional technical college:
· CNC technicians – 40 openings – seven graduates
· Mechanical design – 85 openings – nine graduates
· Electro-mechanical technology – 75 openings – four graduates
Rauscher operates in an industry dominated by boomers, so it’s not just the lack of technical graduates that has him worried. It’s the not-so-distant day his workforce retires.
“I know of at least one mid-size manufacturing firm that expects to see about 50 percent of its work force retire in the next five to 10 years. A young person today can expect to see significant opportunities as companies begin to replace retired workers.”
Rauscher is starting his battle plan now. Step 1 – Get young people to enter his industry by promoting career potential.
We expect the following is also on his to-list: Step 2 – Keep boomers on the payroll longer through part-time and seasonal scheduling.
What are you doing now, to build your future workforce?
Posted by Jaime