The Boston Globe – Workers’ skills aren’t matching available jobs

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Policy School professor and economist Alan Clayton-Matthews says it’s unrealistic to expect people trained for one occupation to train for an entirely different one because demand changes.

Manufacturers and businesses struggle to find skilled workers

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By Shira Schoenberg | MassLive.com | December 10, 2012

Dozens of people walked around a recent Somerville job fair handing out resumes. There was Jim Lundy, 53, an English teacher with a Ph.D. and 30 years of experience. When he could not find a teaching job, he started a business that sells used blue jeans, but has been unsuccessful. There was Isabel Sendao, 38, who lost her job in marketing and sales a year and a half ago and is keeping current on the latest technology while interviewing for jobs. There was Sandy Carr, 51, who worked at non-profit and social service jobs for three decades. She was laid off when a medical billing firm went under and has been doing temporary and contract work until she can find something full-time.

“Job searching’s a constant thing to be doing these days,” Carr said.

At the same time, there are businesses in Massachusetts looking for workers. Denise Petersen, who works in human resources for B&E Precision Aircraft Components in Southwick, said her company is looking for computer numerically controlled machinists and burr hands, a type of skilled laborer. The company is competing with other local tool companies and having a hard time finding workers with the necessary skills. “As experienced or skilled workers leave, it’s getting more difficult to find people in those areas that have experience,” Petersen said. Read More

Attrition seen as threat to manufacturing

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From Wire and Staff Reports | Gloucester Daily Times | December 2, 2012

Manufacturing in Massachusetts faces a threat to its survival as older manufacturing workers retire without younger workers in line to replace them, according to a new study.

During the next decade, approximately 100,000 manufacturing jobs will open up as older workers retire. Manufacturing firms will find it tough to replace them because younger workers are not attracted to the sector, according to Barry Bluestone, director of the Kitty and Michael Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University.

The outlook for manufacturing was discussed during the first meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative – a group of executives, industry experts and state economic development officials organized to strengthen the sector.

The 100,000 figure – or 10,000 jobs a year – is based on flat growth in manufacturing, Bluestone said. The number of jobs could be higher. The report comes on the heels of other figures reported by the Times that show Gloucester has already been shedding higher-paying manufacturing jobs, while gaining in the retail and service sectors. Read More

Help wanted in manufacturing

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Bay State gears up to fill 100,000 projected job openings

By Marie Szaniszlo | The Boston Herald | November 27, 2012

State officials and industry leaders today will hold the first meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative to draw attention to a sector whose work force is aging and projected to have 100,000 job openings over the next decade.

While some analysts have predicted the decline of industry as a major economic player, manufacturing is Massachusetts’ fifth-largest private sector, accounting for some 7,500 companies and 250,000 jobs, said Northeastern University Professor Barry Bluestone, who serves on the collaborative’s board.

“A lot of people don’t know that Massachusetts manufactures things,” said Mitch Tyson, the collaborative’s industry co-chairman and former CEO of PRI Automation. “The reality is so much of high-tech products in the state are made here. All manufacturing jobs have not moved to China.” Read More

Manufacturing a Mass. miracle

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By Barry Bluestone and Jerry Sargent | The Boston Herald | October 27, 2012

If you follow our state’s economic news, you’ve probably heard repeatedly how our innovative technology industries — mobile applications, cloud computing, biotech, medical devices — are fueling our recovery. Indeed, these sectors are thriving. So much so that you’ve probably also heard about the so-called “skills gap” — the lack of qualified professionals necessary to fill the growing number of high-quality jobs.

But lost beneath the tech headlines is another thriving sector facing the same challenge: manufacturing.

That’s right, the sector many gave up for dead when the mills closed last century is alive and well, employing a quarter of a million workers and growing. Quickly.

So quickly that a survey released earlier this month by the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University revealed these sobering facts:

  • Forty-three percent of the firms surveyed expressed substantial difficulty in recruiting skilled craftsmen;
  • Nearly a quarter worry about their ability to hire research-and-development manufacturing specialists;
  • Retiring workers could create another huge shortfall — as many as 100,000 experienced workers may leave the workforce over the next decade.

Read More

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