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Survey: Lack of right skills keeps factory jobs unfilled

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

Employers across the state, including Lincoln County, are continuing to struggle with filling skilled positions despite the current unemployment rate, according to a new survey conducted by the North Carolina Association of Workforce Development Boards.
The Competitive Workforce Alliance, a collaboration of the seven work force development boards and the Charlotte Regional Partnership in the Greater Charlotte Region, issued a release on the survey results, which were collected from more than 1,000 managers of businesses and organizations across the state.
The survey, “Closing the Gap — 2012 Skills Survey of North Carolina Employers,” gathered input from all 100 counties in the state as a follow-up to a similar project undertaken in 2007.
The sector experiencing the greatest skills shortage continues to be manufacturing, with the results indicating a lack of skilled craft workers such as electricians and technical welders.
“The survey shows that while our work force has improved in the last four years, we still have some business sectors that are having issues finding qualified talent to fill open positions,” Vail Carter, business services representative for the Centralina Workforce Development Board and project lead for the skills survey, said in the release.
Those surveyed in the manufacturing sector cited a standardized work-readiness skills training and certification credential as a potential tool to help better determine an applicant’s aptitude and employability skills.
Local work force development boards and their work force partners at community colleges have addressed this issue through the Career Readiness Certification, though many employers noted that the education system is not preparing students with the basic skills they require, said the release.
Some respondents said they are forced to handle training either in-house or through outside vendors, which costs both time and money. Many also commented that their primary means of recruiting is through word-of-mouth.
When the Times-News spoke last month with Jeff Frushtick, president and CEO of Leonard Automatics in Denver, he expressed similar frustrations. Having acquired new, high-tech equipment, he noted that he was having a difficult time finding workers who are adept at running the machines. Specifically, he discussed how he believes there is a disconnect between the education system and industry.
But it appears there is a growing awareness of the need to link the two.
David Hollars, executive director of the Centralina Workforce Development Board serving Anson, Cabarrus, Iredell, Lincoln, Rowan, Stanly and Union counties, believes there must be a better system.
“We must work closely with our partners to ensure our education system is in alignment with the jobs that our economic developers are recruiting for and also aligned with the training needs of employers and job-seekers,” he said.

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