More Skilled Workers Needed in Region

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Published on October 30 2013 7:43 pm
Last Updated on October 30 2013 7:45 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

(PART OF THE SKILLED WORKFORCE ROUNDTABLE WEDNESDAY INVOLVED PRESENTATIONS OF WHAT OTHERS HAVE DONE TO ATTRACT PEOPLE TO SKILLED MANUFACTURING JOBS)

Lake Land College President Josh Bullock said most Americans agree that there is a need for skilled manufacturing employees.  In the same survey, though, Bullock said the respondents said neither they nor their children need information about manfacturing careers because they are not of interest to them or their children.

Bullock said there is a need to educate Americans about skilled manufacturing and what it involves.  Sharing some of the same remarks he made on Manufacturing Day to Chamber First Friday Luncheon attendees earlier this month, Bullock told those gathered at the Thelma Keller Convention Center Wednesday that skilled work will far outpace other career opportunities, but there's not enough interest in a career in manufacturing.

Bullock and Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center President Dr. David Boulay spoke at a roundtable on Addressing Manufacturing Workforce Skill Needs.  The event was sponsored by a six-community college consortium including Lake Land, Kaskaskia, Parkland and other schools, along with East Central Illinois Development Corporation.

Bullock said it's a new manufacturing age, mentioning the return of jobs that had been sent offshore to other nations, a rebounding labor market, regional manufacturing and skill intensive instruction.

He also discussed middle skill needs, involving those who have more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year university degree.  Bullock said more than half the jobs in Illinois involve middle skills, but said, "We don't have enough workers to fill those jobs."  He said America needs a 5.4% annual increase each year for the foreseeable future to meet the middle skills personnel needs.

Boulay said Illinois will need "continual upskilling" to maintain a trained labor pool.  He also hopes for work to get a specific and measurable gap between labor needs and the pool of available workers so the shortfall can be addressed.  He'd also like to see marketing of middle skills employment to heighten awareness and interest.