Crain's Chicago Business' Focus section ran an Oct. 29 report on manufacturing that featured a story [Page 21] about the difficulties of finding skilled talent — "30,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs in Illinois," according to the story.
While the story addressed manufacturing of all types, the challenges are prevalent in plastics.
The story delivered some good data and reasons why it is difficult to find talent for these positions. However, there was no mention of what manufacturers can do right now to identify, attract and retain talent. Executive leaders, as empirical and anecdotal evidence suggests, are not doing a good enough job with what resources they have already.
There are a number of ways companies can locate and attract talent into today's marketplace, while society waits for universities to upgrade/update/enhance marketing campaigns to lure more technically oriented students (unlikely), or wait for another surge in the birth of 24-year-old engineers.
Full disclosure: I am a longtime executive search professional in the manufacturing industry. I am retained by executives to find talent for companies that either don't have the resources or the time to commit to sourcing talent. Every day (since 1985) I see and am involved with the real issues.
Placing all the blame on
the lack of talent due to baby boomers retiring, or young people not being interested in vocational programs, is like blaming the basketball for not going through the hoop: It's the person holding the ball that is the issue.
By taking a "right now" approach, there are many ways to overcome the challenges of securing talent in our present economy.
Here are some immediate ideas, and considerations, that can help executives begin to attract talent: