Michael J. Munday, CEO of Arwood Machine Corporation, located in Newburyport, Massachusetts
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After years of decline, manufacturing is reshoring to the United States. Foreign labor costs are rising to levels at which they can no longer completely offset the shipping costs produced by longer supply chains or the growing concerns over the quality of the parts and products being assembled in foreign factories.
At the same time, unemployment in the wake of the recent recession persists at stubbornly high levels. Unfortunately, the workers still seeking jobs are currently not qualified enough to fill the manufacturing jobs being created by reshoring.
Traditional job training programs, which run, on average, anywhere from 3 to 9 months, are not flexible enough to correct this mismatch and better align worker skills with current needs. Speed to market being what it is today, employers can’t wait 9 months to fill an opening. They need someone now.
On the job training (OJT) programs more effectively meet the needs of employers by allowing them to fill open positions in something closer to real time and ensuring that the training curriculum used addresses the specific skills required for the job.
Up until now, local Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) have primarily invested in the traditional job training model. The WIBs should begin to shift their focus to OJT programs. Unemployed workers will be matched with jobs at the outset of training, in this way insuring that the skills they acquire will be the ones required for the job, a clearly more efficient model than training a potential employee first and then trying to find a job that matches the training.
Funding for OJT programs can be diverted from a state’s Unemployment Insurance pool, for, as soon as a worker is accepted into an OJT program, they are considered an employee of the company providing the training, thus removing them from the unemployment rolls.