Editor’s Note: The Skills Gap Prospectus

Affinity and peer groups, local and regional cooperative networks, public-private partnerships, and school-industry alliances now proliferate in the talent development battle. There are even specialized initiatives aimed at Millennials, girls, and young women.

Take 100 and divide by two, take that and divide by two again, and you have roughly the percentage of women in manufacturing today. The skills gap is a multifaceted issue, extending to gender and into the back office.
In two new reports, one notes that downtime and productivity losses from lack of people are costing manufacturers 11 percent in revenues annually, while the other says the gender gap means manufacturing isn’t paying enough attention to half the available labor force. These reports and current articles in ThomasNet News all evoke a commonality: Drop the notion that perfect candidates will show up at the door and be proactive in talent development because there are now plenty of resources available tackling the skills gap, including specialized recruitment programs for girls. Look for generalist skills in people and train them for company- and job-specific skills –– and go after Millennials.

Millennials will dominate the workforce in a few years. Their characteristics are aligned with emerging skill sets needed on both the shop floor and in supply chain (the back office) — working strategically using technology, loving challenges to solve, and collaborating in teams and with business partners for “big-picture” excellence. This is the ripe time to take action. The biggest mistake is to keep doing nothing while others are going after the future of talent, including women.
William Ng, Editor-in-Chief, wng@thomasnet.com.


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  • Ruth Sweetser
    June 16, 2014

    Thank you for your Thomas.Net editorial about [the lack of] women in manufacturing/manufacturing leadership. Undoubtedly, you have many allies in this call for change. Please count AAUW (American Association of University Women) among them. AAUW is the largest organization advancing education and equity for women and girls, ca. 170K members, and the largest provider in the U.S. of fellowships for women. AAUW’s STEM Task Force facilitates experiential STEM learning for girls (Tech Trek, Tech Savvy). I applaud your reference to existing programs proven to extend manufacturing opportunities to female students and job applicants.
    Since 1990 AAUW has had a research agenda which documents causes and results of females not having equitable educational experiences and opportunities, aspects of which then translate into the workforce/workplace. Please see particularly Tech Savvy: Educating Girls in the New Computer Age (2000); Behind the Pay Gap (2007); Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (2010–with at least 3 million copies in circulation); and Graduating to a Pay Gap (2012).

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