Dr. Steven Bishop and the Manufacturing Skills Gap

Lonna SowersNews

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Dr. Steven Bishop and the Manufacturing Skills Gap

“Manufacturing – it’s dark, dirty and dangerous,” said Dr. Steven Bishop, Ozarks Technical Community College Provost/Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. “That’s what people think of when they think of manufacturing today. Even parents don’t encourage their children to seek jobs in manufacturing fields.”

“When people walk into our labs, they see how clean and high tech they are,” Bishop said.

“Community Colleges should be at the top of the list for manufacturers because that’s where the talented workforce will be found.”

Bishop was a guest panelist for the Missouri Association of Manufacturers “Gearing Up” Annual Conference held recently in Springfield, Missouri. Bishop, along with panelists Dr. Neil Nuttall of North Central Missouri College; Neil Perry of the U.S. Department of Labor, Apprenticeship; Dr. Anthony Okafor of Missouri S&T and panel moderator Brent Weil of the Manufacturing Institute, National Association of Manufacturers spoke of the challenges facing Missouri manufacturers and the opportunities available to these businesses.

Dr. Steven Bishop, Ozark Technical College Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Dr. Steven Bishop, Ozark Technical College
Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

According to the Manufacturing Institute, a study conducted by Deloitte in August 2014, found that 90% of Americans believe manufacturing is very important to economic prosperity and 82% of Americans believe that the U.S. should further invest in the manufacturing industry. The study also revealed that Americans think that targeted programs, such as internships, work study or apprenticeships with certifications or degreed programs would increase interest in manufacturing careers.

Bishop explained that several apprenticeships are being offered by schools, including Ozarks Technical Community College, responding to manufacturing needs. The technical schools can customize courses to better prepare the workers for the job openings. Over the next decade nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed.

By 2025 the skills gap is expected to grow to two million due to a talent shortage. That skills gap is widening and the implications are significant. Retirement of baby boomers, strength of the economy and attractive of the industry are ranked among the factors impacting the talent shortage.

“Every job in manufacturing creates another 2.5 new jobs in local goods and services,” according to the Milken Institute and Economic Planning Institute.

“For every $1 invested in manufacturing, another $1.32 in additional value is created in other sectors,” according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Analysis.

Adding to the complexity is finding workers with the skills required to meet today’s advanced manufacturing requirements. Executives indicate that current employees are not sufficient in key skills, such as technology and computer skills, basic technical training, math skills and problem solving.

Eighty two percent of company executives also feel that the talent shortage will impact their business and their ability to implement new technologies and increase productivity, provide effective customer service, innovate and develop new products, and expand internationally.

Manufacturing is ranked among the most important domestic industries for helping maintain a strong national economy. Those familiar with manufacturing are twice as likely to encourage a child to pursue a manufacturing career. Eighty percent of the manufacturing companies are willing to pay more than the market rates in workforce areas reeling under talent crisis.

The study reveals Americans remain steadfast in their support of manufacturing and also uncovers opportunities to strengthen interest, support and engagement in the U.S. manufacturing industry.

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