On Industry: What to do about the skills gap?

Manufacturing is one of the driving forces of the Minnesota economy. According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, manufacturing accounts for 16 percent of the state’s gross domestic product. Additionally, manufacturing directly and indirectly accounts for 1,020,500 jobs, or 36 percent of jobs in the state. However, there is a real shortage of workers with the skills needed in today’s technology-driven manufacturing industry.

A well-trained workforce is critical to the growth of the overall economy in general, and of manufacturing and industry in particular. And the people to fill the available jobs are hard to come by. In a 2011 survey of manufacturers by the Department of Employment and Economic Development, nearly half of respondents reported unfilled positions due to a lack of qualified applicants. In Northeastern Minnesota, it was 44 percent. The big thing to note is qualified applicants, which is at the heart of the skills gap. And it’s not only the “hard” technical skills that are directly related to the job, but it’s also the “soft skills,” such as communication, dealing with coworkers and general workplace habits that are lacking.

Click here to read Jeremy Lehman’s entire aricle published on the Duluth News Tribune website. 

About Timmothy Boettcher

Business Career Originally recruited in 1998 as a software engineer to design and develop cutting edge technology for new products, Mr. Boettcher assumed leadership for Research and Development and then Engineering before being named President of Realityworks in 2005. Responsible for total operations, he has driven significant understanding of market opportunities, gatekeepers, and funding in education, healthcare, and public service markets; bolstered production and supply chain efficiencies; acquired and launched new age technology; rebuilt leadership competencies; led growth into the Company’s over 65% US school system and over 90 country presence; and led the implementation of the Company’s ESOP to build on the societal mission of the Company and further the family oriented culture to reward employees for their success in achieving the mission and efforts to drive growth. Focused on high market growth, he has led the Company’s turnaround and achieved double-digit top line growth simultaneously with dramatic profit and cash flow improvement. Mr. Boettcher brings more than twenty years of engineering, product development, and global operations experience in education, advanced technology, manufacturing, and distribution industries. Prior to joining Realityworks, he held positions at Cray Research, a leading manufacturer of the world’s fastest supercomputers and Wal-Mart Distribution, the world’s leader in distribution and logistics. Professional & Community Activities Mr. Boettcher is passionate about building effective connections between our countries workforce development system, economic development programs, and education infrastructure. A solid connection between these systems is needed to ensure our youth and workforce are prepared to be global competitive and ready to take on the challenges and needs faced by industry. In delivering on this passion Mr. Boettcher: - has presented workforce development strategies on the national level for Harvard’s Pathway’s to Prosperity, U.S. Department of Labor, and at many Career and Technical Education events. - established and currently chairs the Industry Workforce Needs Council (IWNC), a national level group of industry leaders that works directly with education to increase support for Career and Technical Education in the country in alignment with industry needs. - served on the Board of Directors for the Association for Career and Technical Education. - chaired the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board (Chair) to help establish and lead regional workforce development initiatives. - established and led the Innovation Foundation of Western Wisconsin (Chair) to help bring critical C-level talent to start-ups and small to mid-sized companies to help them grow. - served on the Board for the Eau Claire Economic Development Corporation (President). - and provides guidance to institutions like the International Business Programs Advisory Council of the University of Wisconsin (Eau Claire). Mr. Boettcher also holds seven U.S. and foreign patents.

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