As Manufacturing Jobs Evolve, N.H. Seeks Qualified Workers With New Skills

Oct 30, 2017

Manufacturing jobs require more training in technology, mathematics, and problem-solving, and schools and businesses seek ways to retrain workers and prepare the incoming workforce. 

GUESTS:

  • Christine Carr - Executive Director for the N.H. Career and Technical Educators Association, which is part of the N.H. Career and Technical Centers. She worked for her family's manufacturing business for several years, and co-founded a technology accelerator in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 
  • Sara Colson - Director of Workforce Development at the New Hampshire Business and Industry Association, and head of the joint BIA/N.H. Charitable Foundation's Workforce Accelerator 2025, which is working to introduce 84,000 workers with postsecondary degrees to the labor market by 2025.
  • Phil Przybyszewski - Workforce Solutions Project Director for the Community College System of New Hampshire

Highlights from the conversation:

Jobs Are No Longer Dirty, Dark, And Dangerous

Phil Przybyszewski, of the Community College System of New Hampshire:

Manufacturing used to be called dirty, dark and dangerous. Your grandfather's manufacturing is no more...in companies today, you could eat off the floor [it's] so clean. And the technology changes that have taken place over the years have really made a huge difference...It's really a huge shift in job skills required, which is part of the challenge that companies have today. 

A Critical Workforce Shortage

Sara Colson, of the Business and Industry Association:

I've actually sat down with an employer, and they have slid a piece of paper across the table to me and said, "Okay, these are the jobs I'm hiring for," and I have to look at them and say, "I'm very very sorry, but I don't have a trunk full of manufacturers right now." So it's really a critical shortage, and I think that some employers are getting by with the staff that they have and really it just affects production. 

Przybyszewski:

I have some job posting numbers that are fairly recent. There's like 1600 job openings at one point in time in New Hampshire. That's just a snapshot from the summertime. 

Appealing to Veterans, Immigrants, And Workers With Disabilities

Colson:

There is absolutely an awareness that there are untapped resources currently in the state that we really need to be looking into. The hardest part, and I'm going to focus specifically on refugees and immigrants and the veteran populations, because there are certain skill sets that these populations have that are arriving here in the state... We don't have a great way right now of capturing those [skill sets] ... There are a couple of different schools in the state that are trying right now to put together prior learning assessments so that we can really get a better sense of what those skills are and how they might translate into a degree. 

Manufacturing in New Hampshire, and across the United States

Todd Bookman, reporter for NHPR, covered New Hampshire manufacturing in two pieces recently. Check out: "Made in New Hampshire: Manufacturing's Rise and Fall in Manchester," and "Trump, Trade, and New Hampshire Manufacturing."

"Manufacturing rebounding, reforming in the Granite State," from the Union Leader.

"Tech Advances Drive Manufacturing Investments Back to US," from U.S. News & World Report. 

"American factories could prosper if they find enough skilled workers," from The Economist. 

Workforce Accelerator 2025

  The Workforce Accelerator 2025 is an initiative to connect businesses and educators in order to foster a more skilled workforce by 2025, to suit the need for workers with a higher education in a number of fields, including manufacturing. One part of the initiative is School to Career Pathways, which encourages partnerships between businesses and schools. Another part is the 65 By 25 project. 

65 By 25: A New Project from the Community College System of N.H.

Within the Workforce Accelerator 2025 initiative, New Hampshire has launched a goal to have 65% of adults 25 and older obtain a post-secondary education, including certificates and advanced degrees, by the 2025, in order to suit the growing need for a workforce with higher education across the state. Check out 65 By 25 here