Oakland County Workforce Development Seeks Employer Input on Advanced Manufacturing Job Vacancies

Oakland County launched a program this week that will help prospective employees identify the skills they need to get advanced manufacturing jobs that are vacant because too few qualified applicants are available.
The Skills Needs Assessment Project 2012 (SNAP 2012) was introduced during a news conference by Oakland County’s Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs and the Oakland County Workforce Development Board. The project encourages advanced manufacturing employers to participate in a survey designed to identify gaps in knowledge, skills and abilities in the current workforce that prevents employers from filling advanced manufacturing jobs.
“Employers have told us they’re ready to hire, they want to hire, but they can’t find enough qualified applicants to fill these high-paying jobs,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said. “These are jobs that will go unfilled unless we find qualified workers. I’m encouraging employers to participate in this survey, which will help us develop customized job profiles to identify the skills lacking and those needed for future employment in advanced manufacturing.”
Representatives from Automation Alley, Baker College, Oakland Community College, Lawrence Technological University, Oakland Schools and Walsh College attended the news conference, as did employers A.B. Heller in Milford and Three-M Tool and Machine, Inc., of Commerce Township which both have job vacancies they have been unable to fill or had difficulty filling.
Three-M Tool has been operating at 50 percent of capacity because it can’t find qualified workers, said co-owner Sharon Medwid.
Interested companies will be asked to complete an online survey from Nov. 5 through Nov. 21. Follow up is expected in early December and the results are expected to be compiled by the end of January 2013.
“In keeping with the example set by Brooks Patterson through the Business Roundtable Workforce and Education Committee, we’re going directly to the business community to tell us what the best way to meet their needs is so we can grow the county,” Deputy County Executive Matthew Gibb said.
SNAP 2012 is being conducted by EdEn, Inc., a Rochester-based research firm. The survey focuses on the six-county region of the Economic Growth Alliance: Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland and St. Clair counties.
“The information gathered through the Skills Needs Assessment Project will help us determine how we can help advanced manufacturing employers meet their hiring needs now and in the immediate future,” said EdEn, Inc. President David Banchiu. “Indications are that the jobs are here now and will continue to be in the foreseeable future. Finding people with the right skill set and determining what the current potential labor force is lacking to enable proper training are immediate concerns that we want to address.”
Companies will be asked to choose from six categories which jobs they are having the most difficultly filling. They will then be asked a series of questions about the knowledge, skills and abilities associated with that job. Employers will ultimately be asked to describe their greatest hiring challenge and possible solutions.
SNAP 2012 is the second survey that was done by EdEn Inc. to help job applicants identify the skills employers seek when looking for new employees. In 2009, the Skills Needs Assessment Project identified the top jobs by sector that Emerging Sector companies needed and the skills necessary to obtain those jobs. The 30 job profiles created gave educators and employers a road map to develop courses and certification programs that prepare the workforce of the future.
SNAP 2012 is funded by Oakland County, the Oakland County Workforce Development Board and through the Michigan’s Workforce Development Agency and the U.S. Department of Labor.