Workforce Corner: Reconnect good jobs, wages and manufacturing’s valueManufacturing is big business in the United States.
By: Mari Kay-Nobozny, Superior Telegram
Manufacturing is big business in the United States.
The manufacturing industry adds over half a trillion dollars to the economy each year, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Additionally, each manufacturing job creates nearly three more jobs in other industries and for every dollar of goods produced, manufacturing generates $1.43 for the economy.
Over 70 percent of Americans view manufacturing as the most important industry for a strong economy, yet only 30 percent of parents encourage their children to enter manufacturing careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks Wisconsin third nationally in percentage of total jobs in manufacturing. So, the big question is why aren’t more parents, youth and adults interested in careers in this industry?
This disconnect between the importance of manufacturing in our economy and the lack of interest in manufacturing careers has left many companies with jobs they can’t fill because of a lack of skilled workers. Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (CEP, Inc.) and Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board (NWWIB) are collaborating with the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce, Gold Collar Careers, and other regional organizations, and local manufacturers to host events concentrating on increasing the awareness of manufacturing as a viable and high-wage career. On Thursday, Oct. 18, Ashland and Bayfield county school district administration, guidance counselors and teachers were invited to tour local manufacturing facilities, including C. G. Bretting Manufacturing and H-Windows, and have open, informative discussions.
The goal of this event was to educate guidance counselors, parents and youth about the benefits of choosing a career in manufacturing. Future activities for youth in the planning stages include touring local manufacturers, presentations from manufacturers and business owners, learn about training opportunities from local educators and explore careers in manufacturing through hands on activities and discussion. The NWWIB and CEP, Inc. are also hosting a Manufacturing Employer Summit on Oct. 31 to discuss the skills gap and what measures can be taken to find solutions to those needs.
“Manufacturing accounts for over 430,000 jobs in Wisconsin and continues to remain one of the highest paying industries in the state,” said Suzannah Crandall, CEP Inc.’s youth services specialist, “The goal of the Gold Collar Careers initiative is to eliminate misconceptions youth and parents have about these careers.”
The Gold Collar Careers initiative started in August 2004 in northwest Wisconsin with an aim to promote a positive manufacturing image. The title Gold Collar Careers represents the blue collar workforce and the white collar workforce that makes above the median wage in the United States and in the region. Manufacturing technician and engineering jobs fall into the Gold Collar category when it comes to pay and benefits.
Interested schools and manufacturers should contact Suzannah Crandall at 715-682-9141, ext. 201 or email@example.com or Mary McPhetridge, Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, at 715-682-2500.
Manufacturing employers also have an opportunity to provide input on the workforce issues they are facing. Northwest Wisconsin, along with much of the state and nation, currently faces a workforce paradox — unemployment rates higher than most current workers can remember, and manufacturers who struggle to find or recruit skilled workers. Recently, more and more attention is focused on the importance manufacturing has in the region, as well as the challenges this industry faces now and in the future.
“Wisconsin is the most manufacturing-intensive state in the U.S. A full 20 percent of Wisconsin’s workforce is based in manufacturing—double the national average. NWWIB and CEP, Inc. recognize the need for addressing employer worker needs in this industry,” said Susan Bodoh, Manufacturing Industry Specialist. “Through collaborative relationships with targeted sector business/industry representatives we can identify first-hand the industry needs and design strategies to address those needs.”
NWWIB and CEP Inc. want to help grow manufacturing and meet identified industry needs. In particular, NWWIB and CEP Inc. wants to identify employers’ real time hiring and training needs, and work at helping them increase the pipeline of available skilled workers.
This event runs 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. will take place Wednesday at Phillips’ Northcentral Technical College campus. For more information, contact Susan Bodoh, manufacturing industry specialist at 715-492-5126 or firstname.lastname@example.org or register at www.nwwib.com.