To Solve Workforce Shortages, Council Unveils Talented Workforce Initiative

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Media Release: Great Lakes Manufacturing Council

Detroit, September 12, 2013.  The Great Lakes Manufacturing Council has embarked on an ambitious drive to identify the best workforce development and talent recruitment initiatives in the Great Lakes region. The goal of the Council's far-ranging outreach is to share the best ideas and approaches for resolving a critical workforce shortage issue that threatens nearly all manufacturers and communities in the bi-national Great Lakes economy, the fourth largest economy in the world.

Between  September 10 and October 22, the Council will be looking to identify the most imaginative and effective solutions to building the region's pool of manufacturing talent. The Council plans to publicly recognize and honor the region's most compelling programs, both on its website as well as at a special event planned for 2014.

Ed Wolking, Jr., Executive Vice President Detroit Regional Chamber and President of the Council, today announces the nomination process, which is on-line and open to anyone.

Wolking says, "We know that many communities, employers and individual groups are taking creative approaches to solving these troublesome shortages, including the silver tsunami of retirements. We are going to surface and share those best practices, so that the Great Lakes region will retain its reputation as one of the most productive manufacturing economies in the world."

Nominations can include programs in any of the major workforce or talent arenas:  increasing the skills of incumbent workers; building the skills of new workers; enhancing the skills of transitioning workers and veterans; attracting or recruiting new workers or talent. Eligible programs include those of high school and post-high school institutions, economic development organizations, community-building programs, and individual business or manufacturing initiatives.  Programs can be on a local, regional or national level.

"Skilled workers built this manufacturing economy in the Great Lakes - one of the most productive and innovative in the world," said Sherman Johnson,  Executive Director of Corporate College, of Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana and Chair of the Great Lakes Manufacturing Council's workforce group. "Our region's global leadership position will hinge on our ability to recruit and develop the very best talent for the bi-national manufacturing workforce. This Council initiative will help everyone our region identify innovative and productive approaches that we can all learn from and implement."

According to a Brookings Institution report on the Great Lakes, businesses repeatedly cite a qualified workforce as one of their top priorities for location and expansion decisions. Manufacturers are especially challenged by skills shortages in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, at all levels, from the shop floor to the C-Suite.  Nearly 67% of employers responding to surveys of the Manufacturing Institute report moderate to severe shortages of skilled workers, 57% expect the shortages to become more severe, and 80% indicate that the most severe shortages will be in the skilled production positions - machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors, and technicians.

"There is also a significant skills gap among workers who are not near retirement," John Jung, CEO, Canada's Technology Triangle.  "As the pace of change accelerates and manufacturing becomes even more of a knowledge-driven sector, the on-the-job abilities of these workers become even more critical to manufacturing success."

About the Great Lakes Manufacturing Council,
The Great Lakes Manufacturing Council is a bi-national organization dedicated to the success of manufacturing in the Great Lakes Region.  Membership in the Council is open to all who share that goal.  The Council covers the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, and the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.  It is organized as a 501(c)3 non-profit and includes manufacturing organizations, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, government agencies, colleges and universities.

The Council's vision is that the Great Lakes Region will be one of the top two manufacturing centers in the world.  Its mission is to maintain and increase the competitive advantage for manufacturing and preserve the prosperity of the Great Lakes Region.  The Council focuses on image, innovation, talent and workforce, borders and logistics, and public policy.

Manufacturing is who we are.

Manufacturing makes the Great Lakes home to the world's fourth largest economy, with a combined GDP of $4.7 trillion among the eight states and two provinces. Manufacturing with all its advantages is intrinsic and essential to our region's success. We make things together.

The Council is supporting the development of a manufacturing workforce and talent pipeline throughout the Great Lakes. Leaders in manufacturing and education are examining how Canada and the U.S. can better coordinate or harmonize their skills certification standards. Our manufacturing skills and productivity are vital to the region's success, and we must create the platform for developing the next generations of manufacturing talent.

Bi-National Collaboration
The Great Lakes Manufacturing Council works to promote, preserve and enhance manufacturing in the Great Lakes Region. We foster innovative partnerships, identify best practices, enhance resources and increase exposure to new ideas. Collaborating among council members, we will help manufacturers and their communities compete.