Innovative Workforce Solutions to Help the Advanced Manufacturing Industry Address Hiring, Training, and Retention Challenges
The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a series of investments totaling more than $105 million to address the workforce needs of the advanced manufacturing industry. These investments result from forums which the U.S. Department of Labor hosted over the past three years with industry leaders, educators, and the public workforce system to identify the industry’s hiring, training, and retention challenges.
DOL has sought to understand and implement industry-identified strategies to confront critical workforce challenges. It has listened to employers, representatives from industry associations and labor-management organizations, and others associated with the advanced manufacturing industry regarding their efforts to identify challenges and implement effective workforce strategies. However, the challenges they face are far too complex for one institution or industry sector to solve alone. DOL’s Employment and Training Administration is supporting comprehensive partnerships that include employers, the public workforce system, and other entities that have developed innovative approaches that address the workforce needs of business while also effectively helping workers find good jobs with good wages and promising career pathways in the advanced manufacturing industry.
This set of workforce solutions is based on the advanced manufacturing industry’s priorities that address issues such as:
- Training for Innovation: The capacity for innovation is the primary competitive advantage for U.S. manufacturers in the global marketplace. Employers need workers who are continually focused on improving processes and products.
- Pipeline Development: Too few young people consider manufacturing careers and often are unaware of the skills needed in an advanced manufacturing environment. Similarly, the K-12 system neither adequately imparts the necessary skills nor educates students on manufacturing career opportunities.
- Career Awareness: Manufacturing confronts a negative public image, characterized by such phrases as “declining,” “dirty,” “low pay,” etc. Consequently, too few highly skilled workers seriously consider manufacturing careers.
- Immigration: The manufacturing workforce is increasingly foreign-born, meaning that possessing adequate English language skills is becoming a prominent challenge. Employers have had difficulty finding English language programs that suit their needs.
- Foundational Skills and Competencies: Manufacturers experience difficulty finding and hiring workers with basic personal effectiveness, academic, workplace, and technical skills.
- Small Business Issues: Many small- and medium-sized manufacturers do not have human resources departments and have little experience organizing training programs for their workers.
- Incumbent Worker Training: Manufacturers assert that rising health care and other costs limit the resources available for incumbent worker training. Furthermore, WIA imposes performance standards that often discourage incumbent worker training.
- Training the Supply Chain: Manufacturers increasingly need integrated training programs for workers throughout the supply chain.
The grants are intended to provide genuine solutions, leadership, and models for partnerships that can be replicated across the country.