Strategies to Decrease the Skills Gap and Grow Your Business – Part One
The Enterprise Minnesota’s Statewide CEO Council event in October 2015, yielded ideas that were adapted to address the skills gap faced by manufacturers. The winter edition of Enterprise Minnesota shared several valuable ideas which we thought would be appropriate to pass along to you. The following strategies represent Part One. Position manufacturing in a different way Joe Mulford, President Pine Tech Community College, has direct experience addressing the skills gap. He believes manufacturers must first understand the seven steps to position manufacturing in the right direction. One: Mulford states that firms need to understand that the problem is competitive and that manufacturing is 41st on a list of business sectors that need employees. “People who have the skill sets you’re looking for have a lot of options,” he says. “Demographics of the millennial generation are not there.” Two: Mulford reminds manufacturers of the difference between a plan, which is xx xxx, and a strategy, which is long-term and not a stop-gap. Three: He advises manufacturer to build relationships at two-year schools. Feed students pizza and talk with them, or invite them for a tour. Four: Mulford recommends manufacturers develop forward-looking strategies, beyond their region. Five: Think of alternatives. Schools don’t have the capacity to graduate enough people to meet employer’s needs; hence, the need for forward-looking strategies such as apprentice programs. Six: Provide specific tuition reimbursement and grants regarding careers manufacturers wish students to adopt. Seven: Foster an inviting reputation. Mulford says, “Good isn’t good enough.” Your company culture and your products have to be awesome. Scan for needs and opportunities The publication also reviewed Mary Connor’s presentation. Connor is a senior member of Enterprise Minnesota’s consultant team with seasoned experience in business growth strategies. She tells manufacturers to scan their environment and plan for growth . . . because if they are not growing, they are eroding. According to Connor, firms should:
- Include an internal scan for company knowledge, skills and abilities to evaluate management systems and efforts
- Scan for new entrants into the industry to gauge rivalry: suppliers, buyers, products
- Scan for competition then rate and rank it
- Scan the environment to assess political, environmental, social and technological factors.
- Encourage extensive participation at the onset of the planning process to connect authorship and ownership and ensure the firm’s unilateral direction.
- Share communication as plans are a “group process, not a spectator sport.”
- Report progress using a method of prioritization, so the pressing matter gets resolved.
- Empower employees and make them accountable. They need to be in lock-step.
- Execute the strategic plan. Be resilient and remember every problem has a solution.