Carefully vetted

Posted on Jan 11, 2019 :: Editors Note
Jessica Thiel
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

Nearly any story my colleague MaryBeth Matzek or I write seems to come back to the issue of talent. No source for workers has gone untapped, and experts predict the issue will remain for the foreseeable future. One group, though, could hold some promise for providing the skills manufacturers need.

Veterans bring to jobs an excellent work ethic, an ability to work in teams and under pressure, and strong critical thinking and communication skills, says Ann Franz, director of the NEW Manufacturing Alliance. These soft skills are prized above all for many companies.

This realization has led NEWMA and other groups to step up efforts to recruit transitioning veterans. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. has partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Workforce Development to launch the Mission Wisconsin Talent Pipeline. It creates a united front between state agencies and private-sector companies, with representatives from each participating in events and reaching out to transitioning vets to show them what Wisconsin offers.

Read this month’s cover story starting on page 8 to learn more about these initiatives and companies that have found success in recruiting veterans. Understanding the needs of veterans and active-duty military personnel and providing networks of support is key, they say.

On the topic of talent, check out MaryBeth’s feature on page 15 on the results of NEWMA’s 2019 Manufacturing Vitality Index. Franz calls it “a bullish report,” and indeed it reflects resounding confidence among manufacturers in Northeast Wisconsin.

A whopping 99 percent of respondents anticipate their company’s financial wellness for the next six to 12 months will be healthy or quite healthy. In addition, in the next 12 to 24 months, 34 percent plan a plant expansion and 70 percent plan to invest in a modernization project.

When it comes to talent, however, companies continue to struggle, with 88 percent of respondents saying they will have trouble finding workers in 2019. It’s particularly striking to compare that to 2011, in which just 29 percent said they would struggle.

Finally, take a look at this month’s Education and Training story on Fox Valley Technical College’s manufacturing summer camps on page 17. Perhaps introducing manufacturing careers to middle-schoolers — and their influential parents — could prove successful in helping meet future talent needs.

Wishing you a talent-filled year as we enter 2019!