Editor’s Note: Winning the War for Talent

“The battle for great people is just getting started.” That was the declaration Jim Ryan, CEO of Grainger, the industrial supplies distributor, made yesterday at an intimate media roundtable held at the 2014 Grainger Show in Orlando.

Even as countless efforts to reverse the manufacturing and technology skills gap are underway, the challenge to find qualified employees and new talent is only intensifying. In a networking session of manufacturers that I sat in on at the Grainger event, the skilled labor shortage was the number-one concern when it comes to internal operations. The laments were not atypical of those we’ve heard before: Why do kids get shoehorned into a four-year college system they might not fit in and come out with debt and no jobs, when they can make good careers in manufacturing? Why isn’t manufacturing being promoted better?

Let’s be honest; this systemic issue will take years to fix, but manufacturers want a sense of real action being taken. And that has to come from the leaders at the top. As one manufacturer put it, “We need something broad to happen.”

William Ng, Editor-in-Chief, wng@thomasnet.com.


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  • Mike Dryden
    February 12, 2014

    There is a very simple answer to your question “Why do kids get shoehorned into a four-year college system they might not fit in and come out with debt and no jobs, when they can make good careers in manufacturing?”.

    If you look at almost every job posted that pays above minimum wage usually the first qualification is a University degree. There are not normally any stipulations on what type of degree unless it pertains to Engineering. We are demanding our kids go to school for an additional 4+ years and then throw them into the workforce with absolutely no experience but because of their education bills they have to start at the top to be able to repay their debts.

    There are still some programs available for apprenticeships and trade schools but these are limited and normally you have to “Know” somebody to get you into one of these. Very few jobs today have a training program for people without University degrees where they can work their way up. Until that is brought back into the workplace I think it will continue to worsen.

  • Denis Brisson
    February 12, 2014

    The government does not create jobs. They create the atmosphere where it is possible for companies to be able to create jobs. It is not Obama’s job to create jobs and it is not his fault if companies are stagnant.

    If everyone is waiting for the government, we will be sadly delayed in our expectations. It is up to US to actually create the jobs and the government has been doing all it can. It is time for companies to start doing their part in the economy and start spending some of the cash they are hoarding for the rainy day. We KNOW it is going to rain, but sometimes we just have to make that dash to the car KNOWING full well we are going to get soaked! But sometimes it just isn’t as bad as we thought!

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