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Skills are the Future of Manufacturing

While it’s true that old-fashioned assembly line jobs are dwindling, a new kind of manufacturing job is starved for skilled workers. Today, more than 60 percent of manufacturing employees have at least some college education, according to a U.S Department of Commerce report. And a 2011 report from the Manufacturing Institute estimates that 600,000 skilled manufacturing jobs are currently unfilled because employers can’t find qualified workers.

Tallying forecasted jobs from eight manufacturers in Anson and Union counties who collaborate with South Piedmont Community College to define relevant coursework and training, an estimated 391 positions will need filling in 2014 and 2015. Almost 40 will be machinists, more than a dozen will be technicians and 260 will be production.

Chris Platé, executive director of Economic Development and Aviation for Monroe-Union County Economic Development, says that Union County’s labor pool is inherently “precision-minded” and “detail-oriented.” Much of the workforce has been honed from generations of families with a history in metals/machining or a mechanical background derived from an agrarian lifestyle, according Platé. “Being predisposed to advanced manufacturing processes means that with targeted training—such as the hands-on courses provided at South Piedmont—youth graduating high school and men and women wanting to retrain can ramp up for skilled manufacturing jobs,” he said.

The Monroe-Union County Development Work Plan 2013-2015 can be found at www.developunion.com.

Read Harold Lathan: ‘The best job I’ve ever had’ in the 2013 Career Focus.

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