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Quote of the Day
"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."

- Dale Carnegie

Stimulating Human Capital: A Call to Action

(March 2, 2009)Today we have a shout out from Theresa Clary over at Workforce Strategies.
The country is at a critical cross road in terms of revamping, supporting and maintaining its manufacturing economic base. As in human capital planning, training, and recruitment - knowledge and innovation are critical to the success of this industry. At the societal level we need to meet the tremendous challenge spelled out by the president of The U.S. Business and Industry Council "only by meeting the needs of our citizens with domestically made products, can we generate growth at home." (Kevin L. Kearns, 2009) Now is the time for everyone, including all human capital professions to use their knowledge and innovation to participate in efforts to support the building of a more competitive manufacturing workforce.

If this country is to move forward during these times, we must very quickly build new skills and upgrade the existing skills in manufacturing. If the economic stimulus efforts are to succeed the topic of competitive production of real goods must be understood, encouraged, and supported by every professional and person on the street. For the population as a whole this means quickly understanding the many related issues that surround the decline of manufacturing in the United States, including the skill deficits in our workforce. Any successful economic overhaul means an entire rebuilding and upgrading of skills that support local manufacturers. And, should anyone find it difficult to understand this - it is simply a matter of what will define economic success at the community level in the very near future

Today, all human capital specialists (including recruiters, workforce developers, trainers, educators, and workforce planners, hiring, and retention personnel) can make a foundational difference. This begins by gaining knowledge and information about the skills and occupations needed in manufacturing. It then means incorporating this information into daily professional and non-professional conversations and imparting this information at the personal level. Sharing this with the broader population can be the first practical step in helping to fortify local production-workplace environments.

Effective participation also means developing a more basic understanding about manufacturing, even if it is not one's core professional niche. In doing so, one begins to play a small but critical part in locating and building skills along with bringing these skills and people together. This will rebuild the local manufacturing base.

For example, with our professional peers and various workforce populations we can serve as an information conduit that conveys just how critical manufacturing is to each local community. Or, as part of professional development, we can participate in, or even spearhead, a community or office campaign designed to heighten the awareness about the importance of manufacturing and its critical role to all levels of economic success. This connects manufacturing, not only to present related skills, jobs, and career paths but also to what manufacturing means in terms of our children and country's future.

The loss of our manufacturing base is a problem too vast to be handled without human capital planning. This workplace environment is changing too quickly to be understood and managed without human capital professionals. Human capital professionals across all fields have the experience and critical thinking to make a substantial difference.

Therefore, we need to be ready to share manufacturing related workplace information with others, so they can relay it. Given the numbers of people who will pass by our desks over the next days and months and the inevitable conversations about jobs and work, it is the time to talk about the skills that drive production. Naturally, linking this information to the concepts of skill transferability and potential career shifts follows. A simple conversation like that is part of the innovation that is occurring in manufacturing across the country. For example, if you are working directly with people who are looking for a new job it is simple to encourage them to expand their professional horizon, experience, and resume by visiting, volunteering, or even applying for a job with a local manufacturer.

The reason why everyone must participate individually is that no matter what - the economic stimulus incentives must be used to fortify and support advanced manufacturing in a variety of ways. Locally, it will take people in all walks of life to make such a stimulus work.

The reality is: that while there has been an increasing number of job losses across this sector over the past many years, at the same time there has been an ever growing shortage of skills and qualified workers to do the required manufacturing work. And, this is the message that human capital professionals absolutely need to broadcast.

These shortages have occurred as a result of many things including demographic shifts such as the aging American workforce, the influx of workers from other countries, as well as the need for new and different skills and higher levels of occupations and learning.

These workforce qualifications and skills are now continually being sought because new and emerging kinds of tasks arise as a result of the continual changes that take place in the production environment and its workflow processes.

To become part of this larger national effort to build our production sector now, each of us must learn more about the manufacturing workplace environment, including understanding why it is increasingly becoming a knowledge driven workplace and what that means in manufacturing. It also means understanding that the real competitive advantage in this industry means: speed to market, flexible responses to customer demands, mass-customization, and the production of a higher quality of goods. All of these elements are part of the continual shift of local workplaces toward what is known as advanced manufacturing. Competitive manufacturing calls for high-tech enterprises that successfully can implement process improvements and quality controls including, for example, the installation of intelligent production systems and advanced robotics.

Once we begin to realize why manufacturing is in a league of its own, as professionals, we can explore ways to help local manufacturers achieve the skills and talents they need. This means learning about the various kinds of skills and occupations they need today, as well as those they will need in the future in order to keep local production alive and growing. For example, two of the top skills in manufacturing workplaces today are speaking and equipment selection. (Scroll down and see the top manufacturing skills for a location in Dallas, TX. To see the top 10 manufacturing skills for any location in the United States, visit: )

This is an area and a challenge where there is room for everyone to learn something new and share it. As human capital professionals there is much we can do.

If we, like all Americans, really want our country to succeed, then at every professional and personal level the word on the street has to be about building and upgrading manufacturing skills. It will take active conversation between people in every walk of life to make right our manufacturing workplaces and workforces. It is time for the human capital professionals to share this information with anyone willing to listen. This means taking our professional knowledge not only to the board room and to the workshop, but also to the neighborhood party, the teacher conference, chamber of commerce gathering, community meeting, and to the school board. This means professionally participating in the building of tried and true and new innovative ways to infuse your community with the "right " kind of skills and talents - the ones needed to support the local manufacturers so they can competitively situate themselves.

This means taking part in community initiatives and working with organizations that administer public money such as high schools, private and public colleges, economic developers, workforce developers, faith-based organizations, manufacturing profession organizations and extension programs, libraries, or wherever. It means keeping the topic of advanced manufacturing alive in conversation in the local paper, on community television, at the senior citizen, youth, and adult education centers, as well as in the union hall, local food pantry, health and fitness center, and more.

Simply put: the lack of knowledge and understanding of the role that manufacturing plays in the world economy and in our country particularly in terms of the skill shortages, affects and will continue to affect every person in every community. In looking forward, it is time for each professional to discover and delve into the core geo-skills and occupations that support manufacturing in the specific community and share this information with those local people who are concerned about training, education, job creation, and commerce development.

Human capital specialists will ably meet the challenge of infusing industry with the kinds of skills needed to support the local manufacturing base by taking some of the above actions.

Below shows the top manufacturing geo-skills for a 3 mile radius surrounding 5956 Sherry Lane, Dallas, TX. To learn more about core manufacturing skills and occupational employment for any location in the United States, visit:


Data Note: Geo-Skill Index™ (GSI) indicates concentration relative to a national average of 100.
Source: Workforce Strategies, Inc.

Author: Theresa Clary
copyright 2009, Workforce Strategies, Inc.

You are free to share this document with others in your community as long as you include the copyright information.


Colleen Gildea

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