The manufacturing sector is facing an employment crisis. Our highly-educated workforce simply does not have the particular skills needed to work in the manufacturing sector.
Workforce Alliance (the local American Job Center) created a SkillUp for Manufacturing certificate program to provide general shop skills required for a beginner level helper as well as apprentice level skills needed to start working independently as a semi-skilled manufacturing employee. In 2019, a plastics program was added to the course offerings. The basic program can be completed in as little as five weeks. In early 2020, the Workforce Alliance Manufacturing Careers Partnership applied for state funding to continue and expand their manufacturing training initiative.
The manufacturing sector may provide an opportunity to increase productivity and employment. In a time of urgent need, some of our manufacturers have re-invented themselves to provide the most essential goods for controlling the spread of the virus. The fabrication of face masks and surgical gowns, as well as the production of hand sanitizers, has been quickly implemented. As new shortages arise, such as swabs for the collection of test samples, we expect to see additional retooling of existing facilities to meet the scarcity of essential goods. The region’s manufacturers that have attempted to integrate into the healthcare supply chain have experienced limited access due to existing procurement processes. On a positive note, we have seen the expansion of 3D printing as a small-scale solution to some of our most pressing needs. There may be the opportunity to enhance capacity for this type of manufacturing.