Podcast: Why manufacturers should embrace diversity to solve the skilled labor shortage

Podcast: Why manufacturers should embrace diversity to solve the skilled labor shortage

Feb. 24, 2024
In this episode of Great Question: A Manufacturing Podcast, workforce experts share their perspectives on how DEI hiring can improve the manufacturing industry.

Erica Swinney Staley is executive director of Manufacturing Renaissance, where she developed and directed the Manufacturing Connect and the Young Manufacturers Association programs. These initiatives were designed to expose, inspire, prepare, and support Black and Latinx youth and young adults to pursue careers in manufacturing. Beth Dawson is director of the apprenticeship program at Manufacturing Works. Beth has experience in directing community-building efforts that support education and social justice. Jordan Hooser recently graduated from Cleveland’s Max S Hayes High School and is working as an apprentice at WLS Stamping & Fabricating Co. Ryan Joseph is the director of security and public safety technology recruiting at Recruit Group. Ryan is passionate about nurturing positive candidate experiences while quickly and effectively filling positions for her clients. These industry experts recently spoke with Jennifer Ramsey, editor at large at Endeavor Business Media, about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how manufacturers can utilize underserved, diverse communities to fill the worker shortage. 

Below is an excerpt from the podcast:

IW: With labor shortages growing in many parts of the country, are you hearing more interest from manufacturers about your services?

ES: Definitely. I mean, we have been at this with the career pathways programming really for the last 15-16 years, and we've been aware of this as an issue much longer than that. We saw that companies, because of the advances in technology, robotics, now sort of talk about industry 4.0 and concurrently the sort of decline of training programs, vocational programs, in high schools, that there was a huge need. What we were finding, we did research and saw that a lot of companies had positions that were unfilled for weeks and months, high-paying jobs, high-quality jobs. And so that's where, especially in a place like Chicago where the need for jobs is so acute, especially in certain neighborhoods like the West and South side of Chicago, we ourselves weren't necessarily in education or even workforce development at the time, but we made the case to city leadership, to Chicago Public School leadership. Hey, there is a real opportunity here to get more employers involved at the high school level if we can create programming of a particular quality that, you know, really reintroduces or introduces young people to these great career paths that do not require a four-year degree to access. So yeah, so this is something we've been sort of chipping away at for a couple of decades now, and there's still so much more to be done. There is still an estimated over 58,000 jobs going unfilled in the Chicagoland area in the manufacturing sector alone, so that’s huge. The need is huge.

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