The new decade begins in four years and manufacturers are already planning ahead for their workforce needs in ways not seen in the past. That’s because we are in the midst of the Great Baby Boomer Retirement Cycle. Millions of highly skilled Americans in all types of businesses will be retiring over the next ten years and beyond. Finding skilled younger people who want to work in careers as diverse as manufacturing and accounting is a huge challenge on the radar screen of American managers.
Just take a look at Rockwell Collins, a designer and manufacturer of communications and aviation electronics equipment headquartered in the heart of the American Heartland, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. With the business growth they see on the horizon over the rest of this decade, they forecast that they will need a many as 7,000 new employees, not even including replacements for current workers. The company’s total employment today is about 17,000 worldwide, but Rockwell Collins managers say that about 30 percent of that workforce could retire between 2005 and 2015.
That’s why at National Manufacturing Week last week, the manufacturers’ survey results showed that finding and training a skilled workforce was one of the top challenges. Most don’t believe that they can just take it for granted that this workforce will materialize on time and with the right skill sets. If you’d like to learn more about this, be sure to read Skills Gap 2005 released recently by The Manufacturing Institute, NAM and Deloitte Consulting. It is based on a survey of 800 manufacturers and discusses the shortages and some of the ways in which manufacturers will cope with it. One of the most creative and effective steps has been the Dream It. Do It. campaign, which has been successful in Kansas City in raising the applications for technical school by 35 percent.
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