Here on the blog, we frequently talk about the skills gap. Whether it’s touching on the idea about veterans closing the skills gap or women closing the skills gap, it’s pretty clear that the skills gap is a big concern. And it’s a concern not just here in Nebraska, but around the country and the entire world.
Even if you don’t think about the skills gap on a regular basis, there are manufacturers, small businesses, and corporations near you that are. So what does it really mean? What are the implications that will eventually trickle down to people of every age?
As Tyler Ellyson recently reported for the Colombus Telegram, the labor shortage (a.k.a skills gap) is a major concern for the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and other officials in the manufacturing industry. On Wednesday in Colombus, the president of the NCC even called it the biggest issue in the state right now. “Nebraska manufacturers are struggling to find the right employees to fill many skilled positions, such as welders, electricians, and machinists,” said president Barry Kennedy.
And as we already know, this isn’t a problem that is easily solved. More college graduates than ever before are leaving Nebraska as opposed to putting their talents into companies in the state, and the influx of skilled workers from other states is too minimal to combat this. Nebraska has an incredibly low unemployment rate, which is truly wonderful, but it means that most of the workforce is already employed and not open to working in the skilled positions so desperately needed. Companies aren’t expanding not because they are financially unable to, but because they physically cannot do it with the number of employees they have. President of Torin Products, Inc. and president-elect of the Precision Machined Product Association (PMPA), Tom Bernstein Jr., says nearly every member of the PMPA would hire more workers if they could find qualified labor.
Part of the issue concerns the stigma and historical identities of manufacturing. Even if students are interested in engineering or math or science, vivid images of dull, dingy factories and minimum wage come to mind and deter interested applicants. Teachers, educators, and manufacturers consistently strive to educate young adults that work environments have evolved significantly since the good old Industrial Revolutions, and that a degree from a two-year college or technical institution can result in a job with high wages and fulfilling results. Manufacturing is a vast world of opportunity, and the image problem is preventing many students and potential workers from enjoying what’s available to them.
So in light of this, we urge everyone here in Nebraska to do their part and learn more about the skills gap and the industry. Read our blog, check out the Colombus Telegram, and explore opportunities available at technical colleges no matter your age. Questions? Comments? Want to learn more? Contact us anytime—we’re always happy to help.