More Angles on Worker Skills

Here's a link to another workforce survey article that in this case asks, "Where Does Skilled Labor Come From?" It doesn't break much new ground but it points to two issues that on the surface seemingly shouldn't be the problems that they are. So how come they are?

Writing about "High Tech" companies, the article at reports that, "More than 56% of high-tech organizations felt their biggest performance issue with a lack of skilled workers was productivity, while 35% cited missed growth opportunities."

But it also says that "High-tech organizations are less likely to have a strong relationship with any educational or government body to acquire skilled workers. Only 26% of organizations have a strong relationship with four-year universities, and almost 50% have no relationship at all with high school programs, two-year colleges, or local state employment programs. This lack of community involvement creates a widening gulf for students and potential candidates looking to acquire marketable skills."

I don't get it. Why wouldn't they?

The article reports that manufacturing organizations are more likely to take advantage of multiple relationships with educational and government entities. "Yet, it is in the manufacturing industry where we see the greatest focus on attempting to develop skilled workforces internally, as companies believe the education systems simply have not been able to meet their hiring needs. We also see increasing efforts from manufacturing-focused associations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to retool their programs and conduct outreach efforts to change the perception of manufacturing careers to help companies meet their growing need for skilled labor. Not surprisingly, many manufacturers find their biggest hiring challenge is for skilled labor roles that require greater computer-based skills. More than 47% of organizations stated the CNC machinist — a role that leverages computer automation tools to produce precision parts or instruments — was one of their top two most difficult positions to fill; 33% said CNC programmers were next in line. More than 15% of organizations also selected machine operators, toolmakers, and mechanical technicians as difficult roles to fill on a regular basis."

Now, third-party organizations certainly can help with skills development, but here's one of few times I've read that companies see themselves as a/the primary skills developer.  Too many other times, I read of them bemoaning that nobody's helping them. Skills development has always been a core competency for successful companies. It's also been a necessary cost of doing business that harkens back to apprentice programs that benefited workforce and company alike.I think maybe that part has been forgotten a little too much.

Read the entire article. 

Joe Feeley is editor in chief for Control Design and Industrial Networking. Email him at or check out his Google+ profile.