Our workforce skills gap (Pennsylvania)

Franklin County’s economy is experiencing nearly unprecedented growth due in large part to our strategic location that is within a one-day drive of 50% of the North American population and our workforce, which is prized among employers large and small.  Our growth has been such that our statistically calculated unemployment rate is 4%, which is a rate considered by most economists to represent full employment.

While our reported unemployment rate is very favorable, it is misleading.  Many of our employers have vacant positions they cannot fill simply because there are not enough qualified applicants.  In a recent Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry survey, more than half — 52 percent — said it is very difficult, at best, to recruit qualified job candidates, and 56 percent believe it will get worse by 2021. Only 21 percent — one in five — give the current labor force marks for job readiness of “excellent” or “good.”

Innovative Companies Get Creative to Bridge the Skills Gap

If you’re concerned about the growing skills gap in the U.S., you’re far from alone: According to a recent CareerBuilder study, 2 in 3 employers are concerned about the growing skills gap in this country. Your fears aren’t unfounded, either. More than half of employers have seen a negative impact on business due to extended vacancies. In fact, it’s estimated that the skills gap costs companies nearly $1 million a year.

But just as tense as the search for skilled workers is the debate over who or what is to blame for the skills gap. Some say the gap is the result of a disconnect between employers and educators, leading to inadequate training; others assert that current wages aren’t enough to attract skilled talent to unfilled positions; while others point to job requirements being too narrowly defined.

Regardless of what’s causing the problem, companies around the country are actively working to be part of the solution. Through strategic partnerships with colleges and universities, community groups, youth organizations and government groups, these companies are doing their part to bring awareness, education and opportunities to untapped talent pools – and build a pipeline for the future.

Click here to read Mary Lorenz’s complete article published on the CareerBuilder website. 

6K-12 trends to watch in 2018

Efforts to rethink the existing model and the impact of ESSA implementation will continue shaping education this year.

With a new administration taking office and a new law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, taking effect last fall, 2017 was an eventful for K-12 education— and those changes, among others, are only going to keep changing the playing field in 2018.

From district cooperatives and personalized professional development to new approaches to class design and assessment, administrators should keep their eyes on these six trends over the coming year.

Click here to read Roger Riddell and Linda Jacobson’s complete publication on the EducationDive website. 

Why We Need Best Friends at Work

I’m going to pose a question that is among the most controversial Gallup has asked in 30 years of employee engagement research:

“Do you have a best friend at work?”

When one of my Gallup colleagues first told me that the best friend item tended to elicit the strongest response from clients, I was surprised — it seems like a clear-cut question without much basis for debate.

While I’m not alone in this thinking, I’ve learned that there are people who see a clear dividing line between work and home life. They may be friendly with their coworkers, but they don’t consider them to be friends and certainly not best friends. I’ve also had my share of encounters with leaders and managers who expect their employees to leave their humanness at the door. They frown at chitchat and shared lunch breaks, and they view friendship as detrimental to productivity.

Typically, it’s this group of leaders and managers who have the strongest reaction to the best friend item. Their reactions are varied — some might chuckle or bristle at the language, while others may push back on the relevance of the item.

So, why does Gallup ask the best friend question?

The simple answer is performance. Our research has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job. For example, women who strongly agree they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared with the women who say otherwise (29%).

Click here to read the entire article from Annamarie Mann published on the Gallup News website.

Workplace Learning Trends in 2018

AR and VR

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality – these two topics have been on a number of technology trend lists for the past four to five years. But it was 2017 when the AR and VR bandwagon really got a big push with technology companies providing affordable VR/AR accessories. Innovative AR and VR solutions are helping medical students become qualified surgeons and trainee engineers become qualified aircraft maintenance engineers. AR- and VR-enabled learning solutions are beginning to make a mark in workplace learning as well. With a steady decrease in the manufacturing costs of AR- and VR-enabled devices and smartphone apps simulating the learning environment on the phone screen itself; exciting times lie ahead.

Click here to read about the other 2018 learning trends posted by Origin Learning on the eLearning Learning website.

Government, business leaders expect ‘amazing growth’ in 2018

Manitowoc-area business and government leaders expect a busy 2018, with more housing, jobs and economic development expected for the Lakeshore. The biggest challenge they see? Finding workers.

Among highlights for the city of Two Rivers in the new year is the expansion of Riverside Foods, 2520 Wilson St.  The company plans to construct a 20,000-square-foot building expansion and install new machinery and equipment. The $7.2 million expansion is expected to add at least 100 new jobs.

Two Rivers City Manager Greg Buckley said there’s been increasing demand for Riverside’s line of frozen appetizers. The company makes products for private-label distribution, as well as marketing its own Kettle Brau and Trivers brands of appetizers.

Another Two Rivers company on the grow, WG&R Mattress Factory, 4618 Woodland Drive, plans a 25,000-square-foot expansion of their plant this year, Buckley said. The facility manufactures both WG&R mattresses, and bed supplies for other companies.

The city manager expects additional industrial and company growth in the second half of the year, but nothing he was willing to specify at this point.

Buckley also expects housing to grow in Two Rivers.

Click here to read Patti Zarling’s complete article published on the Manitowoc Herald Time Reporter website.  

Budget could help with skilled worker shortage

More Kansas high school students would be able to attend college-level technical courses free of charge under a proposal by Gov. Sam Brownback.

The proposal comes after under-funding of an existing program in recent years.

Commonly called Senate Bill 155, the program allows high school students to qualify for state-paid tuition in technical courses offered by Kansas technical and community colleges and obtain certificates. But over the past two years, costs have outpaced funding, according to the Kansas Board of Regents.

Kansas has a need for more skilled technical workers, including in aviation. Brownback’s overall budget proposal has drawn scorn from Republicans and some Democrats who question how he plans to pay for new spending, but Wichita manufacturers and the business community have praised its increased funding for career and technical education.

Civic and business leaders have said Kansas needs to attract more skilled workers to remain competitive with other states. Nearly 6,000 Kansas jobs requiring vocational training were vacant in 2017, according to state data.

Click here to read Jonathan Shorman’s complete article published on The Garden City Telegram website. 

Closing the Skilled Trades Gap

As an owner of a construction company here in New Mexico, I am a champion for the construction trades. My company has trained hundreds of workers who earn good wage and are able to support their families, buy homes and contribute to the economy of this state.

Many workers left the construction industry following the construction downturn that accompanied the 2009 recession. At the same time, many traditional training paths into the skilled trades, such as high school vocational education programs, have been eliminated. And the construction industry is feeling the impact of baby boomer retirements with older workers leaving the workforce and taking their valuable skills with them.

The impact of the construction industry skills gap is felt not only by industry employers but other businesses and consumers as well. Shortages of skilled workers can have a significant impact on project timing and pricing. The ripple effect of the construction industry skills gap includes altering the way some firms will do business.

Click here to read Republican Gail Armstrong’s (New Mexico state representative for District 49, Catron, Socorro and Valencia counties) compelling editorial published on the  Santa Fe New Mexico website.

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