Talent is the Key to Success

July 23, 2008 at 7:00 pm Leave a comment

By Randall T. Kempner

Manufacturers face a growing challenge.  Even though the old adage of the factory floor as dark, dirty, and dumb has given way to the new reality of safe, sanitary, and smart facilities, many manufacturing intensive regions now face a labor shortage.  Most manufacturing firms that survive have invested in productivity-enhancing technology instead of more labor.  Jobs in manufacturing now pay more and are less physically demanding.  But while there is less need for manual labor, the increased need for technology-savvy laborers is increasingly hard to meet.  

Over the past few years, the Council on Competitiveness has conducted interviews with hundreds of employers across the country as part of projects designed to support regional competitiveness.   In regions from Spokane, Washington to Rochester, New York, employers offered a common refrain when asked about challenges to their future success: “We have the skilled employees we need today, but are not sure about the ones we need tomorrow.”

There is little reason to doubt that talent will continue to drive both individual and regional economic prosperity.  According to the U.S. Employment and Training Administration, 26 of the 30 fastest growing jobs over the next ten years in the United States will require at least some post-secondary training.  Between 2004 and 2014, approximately 46 percent of all job growth is expected to be generated in professions (management, technical, high level sales) that require a college degree.  For the highest-paying jobs, an even greater percent will require college training. 

With no end in sight to the technological advances that enable the growth of knowledge based industries, the need for skilled workers in unlikely to abate.  Even entry level jobs will require basic knowledge of computer skills.  Higher level jobs throughout the economy will require significantly more capabilities, from technology comprehension to advanced management techniques to manage globally dispersed workers.   

As the U.S. baby-boomer generation retires and more global regions upgrade their ability to support high-value added industry, U.S. metro areas will find the competition to retain highly skilled workers intensifying.   As we look to the future, it seems increasingly clear that the level of education in the workforce will be the difference between regions that succeed and those that stagnate.

Excerpt from “The Talent Imperative for Older Industrial Areas

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Entry filed under: Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Talent and Skills.

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