How Businesses Can Help Develop Skilled Workers

  • How Businesses Can Help Develop Skilled Workers

    OKLAHOMA CITY - January 08, 2021




    Business Leaders' Role in Ending the Skills Gap

    After a year of dramatic changes in the way we work, one thing has remained constant: the skills gap is still as wide as ever and far from closing.  1-8-2021

    This issue is nothing new. The conversation around the skills gap, particularly in skilled trade industries like manufacturing, energy, and construction, has been happening for several years. The emphasis to close the gap has typically been on selling the benefits of learning these skills to job seekers.

    But what role do business leaders have in closing the skills gap?

    Recognizing The Problem and Potential

    Several years ago, the business services firm Deloitte released a comprehensive study of the skills gap within the manufacturing industry. Their research revealed that the skills gap "may leave an estimated 2.4 million positions between 2018 and 2028, with a potential economic impact of $2.5 trillion."

    Despite the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 in 2020, a majority of manufacturing leaders surveyed recently expect modest to significant growth. The demand for a variety of products because of the pandemic has put an increased strain on the supply chain leaving many manufacturers scrambling to hire and meet the need.

    Combined with record unemployment numbers and millions losing their jobs through no fault of their own, business leaders in industries that require technical skills need to recognize the extraordinary situation we are all living through. People are sitting on the sidelines who could be trained and ready to work if a connection was made.

    Identifying Possible Partners

    Many larger companies have launched initiatives to help connect job seekers with apprenticeship and job opportunities. Lowe's launched Track to the Trades to help develop a more skilled workforce in industries like carpentry, HVAC, electrical, plumbing, and appliance repair. 3M started the Manufacturing and Academic Partnerships to provide grants for equipment and curriculum, professional development for instructors, as well as scholarships to local schools.

    These are great examples of what large businesses can do to help close the skills gap, but what about smaller businesses that need skilled workers and don't have the resources of big corporations?

    Most towns and cities have some type of trade or vocational school that is producing skilled workers. In Las Vegas, workers who had been in the hospitality industry are turning to local technical schools. The National Technical Institute (NTI) in Henderson, NV has seen enrollment increase 50% in 2020.

    Rich Horwitz, the director of admissions at NTI, is bullish on the opportunities for people switching careers. "Heating and air companies are having trouble hiring enough skilled technicians," he said. "The job market is hot."
    Partnering with your local school to funnel talented and prepared people to your business is a great way to make an immediate impact on your bottom line. 

    Speak Up

    Harbor Freight Tools recently commissioned a study on the public's view of skilled trades, including polling both parents and students. Their research found that eight out of 10 parents believe their child would be more prepared for a career if there were more chances to study skilled trades in high school, and 90% of voters and 85% of parents believe employers should offer more apprenticeships/internships to students. 

    The need is evident and supported by the public, and once you have a plan in place, it needs to be publicized. Make sure local schools and media know about the opportunities you're creating to help fill the gap and get people back to work. Update your business' website and social media channels with details of the program. Leave no stone unturned in spreading the word of your efforts because creating opportunity and it going unfulfilled is worse than not doing anything at all.