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Survey Shows Manufacturers Struggling With Workforce

by | May 19, 2017 12:00pm
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Posted to: Business, The Economy, Manufacturing Sector, Jobs, Labor, Manufacturing

HARTFORD, CT — Connecticut manufactures will need to fill 13,600 job positions by next year, but they struggle to attract and retrain workers, according to a survey released this week.

Nearly all of the state’s manufacturers – 99 percent – expect to add jobs in the next three years, and more than 13,000 jobs will need to be filled by 2018 alone to meet growing demand, according to the 2017 Survey of Connecticut Manufacturing Workforce Needs.

Manufacturers will be looking to hire various workers, including entry-level production, engineers and welders, according to the study, which was produced by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and the National Science Foundation Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing.

Most jobs have average starting pay ranging from $29,000 to $66,000, but manufacturers complain of difficulties finding and keeping qualified candidates.

About a quarter of respondents, or 27 percent, said they have employees leaving for other jobs with better pay and benefits, while 20 percent said they are losing workers to retirement. At the same time, 47 percent said employees lack employability, punctuality and work ethic; and 71 percent said workers lack certain technical skills.

A survey was emailed and mailed to manufacturing executives and human resource directors statewide in December in January; 157 responded.

“This survey provides tremendous insight into the needs and goals of manufacturing in the state,” Andrea Comer, CBIA vice president of workforce strategies, said in a statement. “It highlights the important role our technical high schools and community colleges play in filling the manufacturing talent pipeline, the ongoing need for 21st Century skills training and the value employers place on certification and credentials.”

When polled, 79 percent of manufacturers said they are preparing for future vacancies by training their current workforce. Most are taking multiple steps to ensure their longevity – 72 percent have targeted recruitment plans, 40 percent are developing and expanding apprenticeships and 26 percent are using automation.

Most, or 95 percent, are addressing the skills gap they see through on-the-job training. Companies also are using tuition reimbursement and classroom education, both outside and during work hours, to combat the problem, the study found.

“The results of the survey will provide educators with critical data that will be used to educate and create the next generation of workforce and, in the process, contribute to the economic growth of the state and the Northeast,” Karen Wosczyna-Birch, executive director of the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, said in a statement.

To meet growing workforce demand, CBIA recommends: expanding the state’s community college technical training programs; expanding the Small Business Express Program to reach larger manufacturers that are struggling to find talent; increasing efforts in public schools to inform students about manufacturing career options; and creating and improving engineering programs at state and private universities in Connecticut.

“This survey is the road map to reinvigorating the mainstay of our state’s economy,” CBIA Senior Vice President of Public Policy Brian Flaherty said in a statement. “The answers are here – from hiring needs to the skills they are looking for, and the barriers to growth the need to clear.”

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