Northern Nevada manufacturers facing severe shortage of skilled workers
The head of the Nevada Manufacturing Association says the state is suffering a severe shortage of people with the training to fill thousands of manufacturing jobs.
“We are about to go into a skilled employee shortage,” Ray Bacon told an audience of manufacturers at the Gold Dust West Thursday morning.
He said since the recession, manufacturing is recovering and has been adding about 1,000 jobs a year. Industry, he said, employed about 50,000 people before the recession but lost more than 11,000 of those jobs when the economy tanked. Industry is again up to about 43,000 workers but Bacon said employers are having severe problems finding people to fill positions because a good number of those former workers have since left the state.
He said that doesn’t include the estimated 6,500 people the Tesla/Panasonic battery factory intends to hire over the next few years.
One problem, he said, “is the perception that manufacturing jobs are not fun jobs.”
Kris Holt of Nevada Business Connections agreed saying the number one complaint he hears from manufacturing businesses is the difficulty finding good employees.
“There are 170 manufacturers in Carson, Douglas and Lyon counties and their number one issue is labor force,” he said.
Nicholas D’Antonio, program manager for the Manufacturing Institute of the National Association of Manufacturers, said manufacturers have to do a much better job of getting young workers interested in manufacturing jobs.
He said for too long, students have been relentlessly pushed toward college to get a career not only by high schools but by their parents.
“They’re saying manufacturing is important but would not encourage their kids to pursue a career in manufacturing,” he said.
He said owners of manufacturing firms have to become much more active in exposing students to the jobs they offer. D’Antonio said students as young as elementary school are exposed to college careers but manufacturers haven’t made the same kind of efforts.
D’Antonio urged manufacturers to create ambassador programs using some of their younger employees to talk to high school students about what they do. He also said employers need to make sure the people they hire are getting the skills through industry certification programs that ensure they have the abilities industry is looking for.
D’Antonio also urged those business owners to work with their high schools and community colleges to make sure they’re not only exposing students to manufacturing careers but providing them the skills to do those jobs.
Bacon told the audience the next few years, “are going to be a very, very challenging period.”