Finding Skilled Talent: Partnerships Play a Key Role

Posted By: Jeannine Kunz, Vice President, Tooling U-SME on July 18, 2019

Finding Skilled Talent: Partnerships Play a Key Role

This blog is the second of two related to issues raised in the 2019 Tooling U-SME report, “The True Cost of Turnover: Hidden Costs Go Beyond Financial to Impact Productivity and Culture.”

It’s no secret that one of the biggest threats to the manufacturing industry is turnover, considering the impending skills gap caused by baby boomer retirements and new technologies.

More than one-third of respondents to Tooling U-SME’s recent workforce study1 say that more than 20 percent of their workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next three years. And 99 percent of the same respondents say that their biggest challenge is something closely related to retirements and turnover — finding skilled new hires. With unemployment is at its lowest point in years this is hardly surprising. Neither is the fact that many employers are recruiting those who are already employed, enticing them with higher pay and promises of a better work environment.

Of course, there are expenses related to recruiting skilled talent. One way companies can help alleviate these costs is to form partnerships with community programs and schools.

Manufacturers can derive great value out of partnering with high schools, community and technical colleges, universities, public agencies and community-based organizations. Within these partnerships, stakeholders are able to find solutions to jointly identified educational challenges and use their combined resources to implement them.

In one example of partnership-building, an automotive supplier worked with Tooling U-SME and SME PRIME (Partnership Response in Manufacturing Education) to build a talent pipeline through local high schools and universities. It also partnered with engineering schools that offer co-op programs; developed a high school internship program that partnered juniors and seniors with mentors in four apprenticeships; and fast-tracked high school students into apprenticeship programs upon graduation.

In another example, a precision machining and fabrication leader in a remote location wanted to establish a systematic training program to develop new and incumbent workers. It needed a strategic partner to gain credentials that would make it attractive for grant funding, but didn’t have an accredited educational institution in the area. So the company utilized Tooling U-SME’s industry-validated workforce education to become a public education institution itself — which then opened the doors to an apprenticeship program and funding.

While manufacturers can benefit immensely from industry-education partnerships, they aren’t the only ones who can. Schools and students benefit too. High school career and technical education (CTE) programs — geared toward manufacturing — are demonstrating that moving toward a more business-oriented approach is a winning strategy for all, as it provides real-life work experience to students and a pipeline of skilled workers to manufacturers.

In the next decade, job seekers in manufacturing will find plenty of openings. By partnering externally with industry and internally with others within the school network, CTE programs can, and should, play a larger role in solving the skills gap and helping to alleviate turnover.

For information about the full cost of turnover, download Tooling U-SME’s “True Cost of Turnover” report.

Next week’s blog installment will focus on another critical turnover-related topic, “Keeping Skilled Talent.”

1. Tooling U-SME Industry Pulse: 2018 Manufacturing Workforce Study.

Tags: apprenticeship, "cost of turnover", CTE, "industry-education partnerships", "skills gap", SME, "SME PRIME", "technical education programs", "Tooling U-SME", turnover