An abundance of natural gas discovered in U.S. shale reserves has led to a sudden drop in fuel prices, sparking a boom in the nation’s manufacturing sector. In almost every state, manufacturing facilities are appearing and expanding at a rapid rate, producing everything from chemicals to food and consumer goods. The availability of low-cost fuel will have an undetermined impact on the environment and regional economies, but the short term, the impact on the manufacturing industry is undeniably positive.
Still, some industry representatives aren’t satisfied with current rates of growth and are working to remove obstacles that stand between manufacturing companies and their aggressive expansion goals. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, these obstacles include immigration reform and local mismatches between worker skill sets and employer needs.
Immigration, Skill Matches, and Manufacturing Growth
Proponents of the manufacturing industry are working diligently to push legislation related to immigration reform. According to industry spokespeople, building a pathway to citizenship will make it easier for local immigrant residents to secure jobs in growing manufacturing facilities. In that respect, immigration reformers and business owners are joining forces to push new legislation that will help both parties and may go into effect within a year.
The industry skills gap represents another common complaint often raised by manufacturing companies pushing for faster growth. Too often, local residents can’t offer the specific skill sets that employers need in order to staff open positions in new and expanding facilities. While applicant searches expand to reach a national audience and qualified candidates relocate to accept these positions, employers are still searching for ways to build necessary skill sets in the local community.
This often involves partnerships with local vocational-technical training centers and community colleges. Manufacturing enterprises subsidize and finance skill-specific training programs and course offerings, and in response, educational facilities provide a local talent pipeline that can meet employer needs. Forward-thinking manufacturing firms are also providing scholarships and in-house apprenticeship programs for untrained but high potential candidates.
If your manufacturing enterprise is facing a skills gap or struggling to find a team of qualified, local employees that can help your firm take advantage of the current boom in available fuel and other resources, reach out the recruiting and staffing experts at CSS.