Human Resources, Manufacturing, and Nonprofits

Manufacturers produce seminar on filling 'skills gap'

October 16, 2015
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Michigan Manufacturers Association
Michigan has more office furniture, fixtures and millwork shop employees, more than 15,000, than "any state in the nation and nearly twice that of the next closest state," according to the Michigan Manufacturers Association. Photo via

Talk to any West Michigan manufacturer, in any industry, about the challenges they face, and you will likely hear about the talent shortage pretty quickly.


The median age of a manufacturing employee is 44, higher for those in skilled trades positions such as welders. As they leave the factory floor for retirement, millennials have not been quick to fill the vacancies.

Those unfilled positions are already impacting manufacturers production, and as baby boomers start retiring in larger numbers, companies are fearful that unfilled positions will hinder growth and cause even greater challenges.

Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs likely need to be filled, and the "skills gap" is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled, according to the Manufacturing Institute.

So far, the solutions being implemented are still in their infancy, and it will take several years to see if they really pay off in the form of increased manufacturing workers.

Skills Gap seminar

In the meantime, executives from manufacturers located throughout West Michigan will come together in Grand Rapids on Oct. 28 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the JW Marriott for the seminar Filling the Manufacturing Skills Gap with Technology & Automation — Attracting a New Generation of Manufacturing Workers.

The free half-day seminar and networking event will focus on building relationships within the manufacturing industry to help tackle the shortage.

“The talent challenge is too big for you to solve by yourself,” said Chuck Hadden, president and CEO, Michigan Manufacturers Association. “Events like this lay the foundation for partnerships and that's what manufacturers need."

Manufacturing experts will also be on hand, offering their insights, experience and tools and resources available to address the various hurdles manufacturers are up against.

The seminar's agenda of educational sessions will challenge attendees to evaluate their company's technology, brand and image, employee retention techniques and involvement in the state's manufacturing advocacy and legislation, as well as apprentice and training programs.

"Apprenticeships, internships, and other work-based learning allows industry to grow their own workforce and ensure a future pipeline of qualified talent," said Stephanie Comai, director, Michigan Talent Investment Agency.


Speakers include Marcia Black-Watson, industry talent director with the Michigan Workforce Development Agency, David Barks, VP of manufacturing and warehousing for Radley Corporation, Paul Jakubik, key account manager with Omni-ID, and Hadden of the Michigan Manufacturers Association.


People can register for the free seminar online.

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