A Look at How We Work to Fill the Skills Gap
November 19, 2019
Ask any American manufacturing facility what today’s big questions are, and they’ll probably respond the same way: by focusing on workforce shortages and the skills gap.
Where is the next generation of manufacturing talent coming from? How are we going to fill the open jobs on our shop floor?
Seems like everyone is talking about the workforce shortage. Here at Laser Precision, we take the situation seriously. Talented workers are the lifeblood of our business. How do we approach the problem? The same way we address every obstacle to our success. We analyze, research, deliberate and take action.
Reaching Out to Lake County
When Kim Wimer, our Human Resources Manager, joined us in 2017, she immediately focused on building a long-term pipeline of talent to fill positions as needed. Finding skilled manufacturing workers has become so difficult that it is now almost impossible for any one company to do the job on its own. That’s why we made a conscious decision to become an active participant in the economic community of Lake County.
One of our allies in this endeavor is Lake County Partners (LCP), a non-profit organization that works to maintain the economic vitality and improve the business climate in the region. Through its efforts, the Lake County Workforce Ecosystem (ECO) was developed to build a talent pipeline from the ground up that aligns with the region’s future workforce demands.
This is accomplished by working closely with local partners. For example, College of Lake County offers career-related certification programs, and Lake County Tech Campus is an extension site of many area high schools for Juniors and Seniors to attend classes in a specific career training program.
Kim also worked closely with the Lake CountyWorkforce Development Board, volunteering to sit on the board’s Employer Connection Committee to give them valuable insight into the manufacturing industry’s needs and provide a voice to recruitment and retention issues in Lake County.
Taking a Leadership Role
Our efforts in discovering and nurturing a more diverse population of potential employees in Lake County were recently recognized with the 2019 Business Leadership Award from the Illinois Workforce Partnership. (See details.)
Kim’s hard work (and her ability to say “yes” to any workforce-related task) led to her recent appointment to the Lake CountyWorkforce Development Board. Other organizations represented on the board include Six Flags, the United Way, Chase Bank and the College of Lake County.
The Lake CountyWorkforce Development Board is one of approximately 550 Workforce Development Boards active throughout the United States. Along with their 12,000+ business members, they coordinate and leverage workforce strategies with education and economic development stakeholders within their local communities and ensure that state and local workforce development and job training programs meet the needs of employers.
The board also lobbies for state funding for employment programs such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the global economy.
As a board member, Kim will be well positioned to keep her finger on the pulse of the marketplace and influence other companies to participate in workforce development. She will also be at the forefront of activities that place her in contact with a variety of potential employees, enhancing our own efforts to remain fully staffed.
One potential source of skilled workers sponsored by the board are “Layoff Events,” when companies who are downsizing bring potential employers in for interviews with workers before they close the doors. These workers have skillsets and experience that are directly applicable to our needs. We have already hired two employees from these events and a third is being processed.
WIOAalso funds “Transitional Jobs,” which are time-limited, wage-paid work experiences that are subsidized up to 100 percent. Unlike on-the-job training (OJT), in a transitional jobs program, the training provider may be the employer of record and there is no requirement that the employer retains the individual upon completion of the transitional job. However, job retention is an ideal outcome.
Bringing Them In
From our point of view, Kim’s participation on the Lake CountyWorkforce Development Board is time well spent. Our goal is to develop and retain our workforce, which in turn will make the growth of our business sustainable. Kim’s efforts have placed 15 potential employees in the pipeline. This gives us a competitive edge over companies in Lake County that have not taken a proactive stance to the workforce shortage problem.
Know someone who’s looking for a satisfying and benefit-filled career? We are always hiring skilled and hard working individuals. Visit our careers page to browse open jobs or to submit your résumé.