The availability of a qualified work force has become the #1 factor in determining where a company will locate, according to the latest survey of company executives by Area Development Magazine, rising from the #3 factor in the year earlier survey.
More and more industries are demanding workforces capable of being employed in advanced manufacturing operations. The skill sets required to program, operate and maintain the type of equipment used in advanced manufacturing are different and more advanced than required previously. Equipment operators must be able to think on the fly, trouble shoot and make rapid change-overs on a production line.
By 2017, an estimated 2.5 million of these new “middle skill” jobs will be added to the U.S. workforce. These jobs will require post-secondary education but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree. 40% of all job growth will occur in these well-paying “middle skill” jobs.
Our region is rich in continuing education facilities and programs. Through collaborative efforts with these regional education and training organizations we are building the skilled workforce required to attract the advanced manufacturing businesses necessary for future growth in the region.
This article also appeared in the Rockford Register Star on January 24, 2016.