Taking a closer look at the so-called skills gap


Taking a closer look at the so-called skills gap

For months, employers who need skilled workers, such as aerospace design companies, engineering firms and manufacturing companies, have been complaining that they are struggling to find enough skilled workers to expand operations. However, one group in Wisconsin is now putting this claim under the microscope to get to the bottom of what's really keeping employment from taking off, Wisconsin Business reports.

According to the news source, employers, workers and representatives from education institutions recently held a panel discussion to address the skills gap. While one business owner said it was a lack of education that was fueling the dearth of skilled workers, another experienced HR professional said companies may have become "way too picky," and are offering wages that aren't as attractive to potential workers.

"Would it be wonderful to have hundreds of people knocking at my door with experience in my industry? Absolutely. Would I hire them? In a heartbeat," said Mary Isbister, president of GenMet, a metal fabricating firm. "But that's isn't reality."

However, one local hiring official disagreed with Isbister's assessment of the hiring environment.

"We're finding, when we talk to employers - and I need to put myself on this list as a hiring manager - that we're way too picky about who we're hiring," she said. "We're not willing to hire somebody who has most of what's necessary and then invest in training to get them up and running."

Still, lack of skills or not, the sheer size of the potential workforce appears to be dwindling as experienced, trained workers head for retirement. In the recently released U.S. Federal Reserve Beige Book, Massachusetts manufacturers are said to be especially susceptible to this, with an estimated 100,000 manufacturing jobs set up open up as workers retire - with few candidates to fill these positions.

"This is a problem we have," said Barry Bluestone, director of the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University, according to the Newburyport News. "We are so focused on going to college and getting a degree in finance and health sciences, we forget there are 10,000 jobs a year in manufacturing."

Whatever the reason for the lack of perfect candidates, temporary staffing firms have acknowledged the need for more highly trained job applicants to enter the jobs market.