Lack of Skilled Employees Puts Drag on Economic Recovery

New York Times today, “Factory Jobs Return, but Employers Find Skills Shortage“:

BEDFORD, Ohio — Factory owners have been adding jobs slowly but steadily since the beginning of the year, giving a lift to the fragile economic recovery. And because they laid off so many workers — more than two million since the end of 2007 — manufacturers now have a vast pool of people to choose from.

Yet some of these employers complain that they cannot fill their openings.

Plenty of people are applying for the jobs. The problem, the companies say, is a mismatch between the kind of skilled workers needed and the ranks of the unemployed

The Times cites the example of Ben Venue Laboratories, a contract drug maker, which has reviewed 3,600 job applications this year and found just 47 people to hire at $13 to $15 an hour.

And here’s Steve Dwyer, president of  president and CEO of the Conexus Indiana advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative, writing an op-ed in The Indianapolis Star, “The jobs keep coming, but we need qualified workers

At a time when new manufacturing jobs demand high-tech skills and problem-solving capabilities, workers with a high school diploma or less just can’t make the grade. And with baby boomer workers retiring in greater numbers (and the average age of the Indiana manufacturing worker hovering at about 50), the state faces a looming shortage of qualified employees.

We can’t have sustainable job growth without a parallel focus on education. Ultimately, trying to grow our economy without training our work force only frustrates the ambitions of both the companies that can’t find skilled workers and the Hoosiers who continue to find themselves unqualified for better jobs.

Dwyer notes the efforts of Dream It Do It Indiana to promote careers in manufacturing to young people,  www.dreamitdoitindiana.com.

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