Survey Shows Skills Gap Still an Issue

Survey Shows Skills Gap Still an Issue (full article)
By: Tri-State Manufacturers Alliance
Posted: March 15, 2012


Results from a survey of manufacturers in southern Indiana and western Kentucky suggest that employers often struggle to find entry-level employees who have the specific skills necessary for them to contribute from day one. A little over 40 percent of respondents said the biggest reason why applicants aren’t hired is because they lack the necessary technical skills.

The Tri-State Manufacturers’ Alliance (TSMA) and Grow Southwest Indiana Workforce (GSIW) surveyed manufacturers in 47 counties in southern Indiana and seven counties in western Kentucky in February to determine workforce needs. Of the 432 manufacturers that were surveyed, 133 responded for a response rate of 31 percent. The partners view the results as an opportunity to retrain a workforce that is eager to succeed.

“We see many hard-working and reliable folks who want work in manufacturing, but they aren’t quite ready,” said Joe Patterson, director of New Motors Group at Flanders. “This survey and the work that will follow is going to help them learn the skills that are necessary to work in manufacturing and help manufacturers meet their needs for employees.”

Results from the survey were included in a Workforce Innovation Grant Grow Southwest Indiana Regional Workforce Board submitted to fund programming that will retrain adults and youth for manufacturing jobs. If funded, the results will then be used to drive short and long-term strategies. Short-term goals already being planned will include a five-week certification program tailored to meet manufacturers’ needs. Manufacturers who are members of TSMA will have the opportunity to interview applicants who complete the course work.

For longer-term goals, the partners are working with Conexus, an advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative working to make Indiana a global leader in highgrowth, high-tech industries. Conexus compiled and analyzed the survey findings and will be involved in developing the curriculum along with representatives from the education and manufacturing sectors. Eventually, the curriculum will be expanded into modules that will allow adults to continue to work while they learn.

“We applaud the efforts of the Tri-State Alliance to enhance the workforce in the region, and we look forward to working with area manufacturers as we build the pipeline of qualified workers,” said Steve Dwyer President and CEO of Conexus. “The issues faced in the tri-state area are similar to those all across the state, and we are encouraged by the growing commitment on the part of industry and educators to work together to address the challenges we face to keep Indiana a strong manufacturing state.”

TSMA is an initiative of the Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana and provides a forum for its 110 members to discuss issues and learn best practices. The Chamber of Commerce of Southwest Indiana is one of the largest regional chambers of commerce in the state of Indiana. The Chamber and its more than 1,200 members lead Southwest Indiana by fostering an innovative business, educational, cultural and governmental environment that excels in a global marketplace.