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Posted 07/28/2014

The Flip Side of Lower Unemployment

In June, Minnesota saw its unemployment rate decrease to 4.5%. While this is a good sign for the economy, there is a flip side. It means a tighter market for skilled workers. Precision manufacturing and medtech in particular have experienced this downside for quite some time. David Fondler of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press recently interviewed MPS Technical about the flip side of lower unemployment. When asked if businesses are suffering from the current environment MPS responded, “Absolutely.” They point not only to a tighter market for skilled-workers, but also to demographic and cultural trends. There aren’t enough young folks to replace an aging and retiring work force – one in six workers in MN are over the age of 50. For many years, parents and teachers did not encourage children to pursue a career in manufacturing, as it is often thought of as “dirty.” Manufacturing and the work involved have greatly changed over the years. Manufacturers in the area are seeing high demand for their products and therefore need to ramp up production. To combat the shortage in skilled-workers, they are employing a number of new strategies. First, many have developed close partnerships with local tech schools, such as Hennepin Technical College and Dunwoody College of Technology, to get in front of students. Companies are also developing their own in-house training programs to help current employees grow. More and more manufacturers are moving away from hiring for a certain skill to hiring someone who is trainable. MPS adds, “so now it's about finding people who are suitable for training, with more of an emphasis on cultural fit within the organization. Because they know in the long run, if they get that cultural fit, they're going to have longevity.” Furthermore, once they have secured a trainable employee, manufacturers are keyed into retention – regularly reviewing benefits and compensation, actively listening to employee feedback and measuring employee satisfaction. “It's a small investment to make compared to what you have to invest in finding a new employee,” says MPS. For all those people condemning manufacturing as a “dirty” career, think again. On-the-job training, good benefits and compensation, and treating employees well:  manufacturing has suddenly become a much more desirable option.   [caption id="attachment_733" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Source: Pioneer Press | twincities.com Source: Pioneer Press | twincities.com[/caption]