Talent tops everything

Posted on Jul 14, 2017 :: Editors Note
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

For a moment, I considered writing the word “trumps” in the headline, but caught myself just in time. While I wasn’t thinking of the president, I didn’t want readers to draw any conclusions, good or bad, so I opted to make a quick edit.

As for talent, well, that truly is one of the top issues for discussion among manufacturers throughout the region. The conversations seem to start with “we need to attract more …” and diverge from there down a myriad of different but related paths. So, it should not really have been a surprise this month as we put the issue together that almost every story explored those challenges.

But what a pleasure it was the past several weeks to talk and write about the creative and unique solutions manufacturers and their advocates are developing to make sure the region has enough of this ever-precious resource.

As it has for many years, it seems to start with the baby boomers, who are retiring in ever-larger numbers. Not only will their departure leave the overall workforce smaller, they are taking their institutional — or tribal — knowledge with them. This is irreplaceable information gleaned from years of experience on the job.

Staff Writer Jessica Thiel explores the issue in this month’s cover story, building upon a recent survey conducted by the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance. Several companies in our region have come up with unique solutions that not only seek to preserve that tribal knowledge, but install new ways to make sure the next generation of workers gains needed skills. Many are also exploring ways to keep those older employees on part time.

Up in the Northwoods, a task force has been diligently working on new tactics to attract, retain and grow the talent pool in that region. Many would be surprised by the manufacturing diversity of the region, as well as the quality of life it offers. This group is working to make sure that knowledge does not remain a secret any longer. You can read about the effort starting on page 19.

While this is the July issue of IOM, it’s certainly not too early to start thinking about October and Manufacturing First. The two-day manufacturing extravaganza is set for Oct. 25 and 26 at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay. Early bird registration is already open at firstbusiness.com/events/manufacturing-first/ and one of the key tracks for education is talent. We’ll be writing a lot more about that in upcoming issues, but start making your plans now.

As always, we look forward to seeing you there. Φ

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