No man is an island, and neither is any manufacturer. Indeed, local and regional ties have never been more important to the industry’s success, as companies seek to fill hundreds of thousands of open positions and secure a talent pipeline for the next decade.
That’s why building partnerships with local organizations, schools and leaders was a key topic at the Manufacturing Institute’s 2023 Workforce Summit in October.
- As MI President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee put it, “The current state of the economy calls for new ideas for solutions…. We’ll need to build more diverse talent pipelines and connect with our partners in the workforce ecosystem.”
The problem has changed: “The workforce challenges we are seeing are not transitory; they’re structural,” emphasized MI Vice President of Workforce Solutions Gardner Carrick. “Addressing these structural challenges are going to require local, regional solutions.”
- In this case, “regional” means approximately a 40-mile radius around a facility. Manufacturers should focus on sourcing the bulk of their workforce from this immediate area, said Carrick, since it is unlikely that workers outside of that radius would be willing to commute.
- Carrick noted that manufacturers will need other organizations to help their outreach. “We need to collaborate. This is not a problem that can be solved individually.”
Which partners? Manufacturers should seek out economic development boards, education partners and community-based organizations, as well as individual leaders within their local communities.
- “With every new partnership, identify the point person and the decision-makers,” Carrick advised. “Work with them to maximize the relationship. You want to build awareness and institutional memory of your company within that organization.”
- In addition, manufacturers can seek out regional chapters of the MI’s Heroes MAKE America, Women MAKE America and FAME USA initiatives—which help members of the military community, women and others find rewarding manufacturing c areers.
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