Expertise Beyond the Numbers

Workforce Development: The Key to Manufacturing’s Future

SC&H Group and First National Bank recently jointly sponsored the event, “Manufacturing a Smarter Future: Revitalizing the Workforce,” the 2nd event of a manufacturing focused series created by SC&H Group.

Executives from the region’s leading manufacturers urged fellow organizations to adopt more creative talent acquisition and retention approaches, and stop using uninventive workforce development strategies, or face the prospect of continued difficulty with recruiting.

When revisiting the mission of this series, SC&H Group’s CEO Ron Causey shared, “We have made a commitment to our clients to offer them the best, most impactful, and educational resources we can. With the help of First National Bank we are able to continue to host events like this that focus on the needs most relevant and timely to our clients. Developing a strong and effective workforce is a challenge all industries face, but for manufacturers there is a real need for talent, and SC&H is here to help.”

“This is a compelling issue for all of us,” said Hugh Robinson, Senior Vice President and Business Banking Team Leader, First National Bank. “Workforce development is an issue and a challenge throughout the industry. With a wealth of clients in the manufacturing space, SC&H has long been an advocate for the industry. We are thrilled to partner with them to create an educational and informative platform for manufacturers who face these challenges daily.”

Our event moderator – Trif Alatzas, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Baltimore Sun – directed a series of pertinent and timely questions to the panel of experts. While many manufacturing organizations have struggled to retain, recruit, and expand their workforces, the companies the panelists represented have managed to do just that through programs like vocational schools, grants, joint ventures, apprenticeships, and internal training initiatives.

Alatzas opened the discussion by sharing the importance of manufacturing to the Baltimore Sun, “Many people just see the Baltimore Sun as a media outlet, which we are, but we are also a significant manufacturer. The Sun has been a vibrant manufacturer in Baltimore for 180 years, printing, producing, and distributing the newspaper. The discussion around workforce development is so important. We need to work together because there are so many needs from a jobs standpoint.”

Mark Rice, President, Maritime Applied Physics Corporation touched on the most important issue faced by manufacturers: “The gap between workforce development and manufacturing is still our biggest challenge today.” Rice discussed initiatives taken by his organization to create training, educational, and mentoring programs at the high school level. A maritime engineer and boat manufacturer, MAPC’s programs have had great success through partnerships with George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology and Jane Addams Resource Corporation Baltimore (JARC).

Renee Evans, Pompeian, Inc., shared with as many as six out of ten manufacturing jobs going unfilled, equipping the current workforce with the skills and abilities to succeed is increasingly important. Evans, the Human Resources Manager at Pompeian, a manufacturer of vinegar, olive oils, and cooking wines, has used partnerships and grants to meet their needs. “By combining resources and networks with area manufacturers, we have been able to secure vital grant money from the state of Maryland to better train and educate our people.”

Jen Strobel, Vice President of Human Resources, Flagger Force, shared the sentiment that they have so many openings they can’t hire people fast enough. Flagger Force, a construction and traffic control company, is looking to fill as many as 150 vacancies. Strobel stressed that just because they look to hire fast, they do not train fast. “You can’t microwave people,” Strobel said, “You train them in the slow cooker. You absolutely have to educate and reeducate your people, and then reeducate them again.”

Who to hire has become even more critical as manufacturers struggle to attract talent from traditional sources. Jason Hardebeck, CEO of the industrial-grade maker-space The Foundery, urged manufacturers to, “Expand your view and scope for who you can hire. If you’re not looking to change your criteria other will surpass you. Look to the people who just need a chance, and give it to them.”

Jamison Door, a producer of cold storage and specialty doors, has gone to great lengths to show how valued their employees are. John Williams, Chairman and CEO, Jamison Door, said, “We need to recognize and respect our people for what they do. Not everyone in the company wants to be president one day, but everyone’s job is important, and we let them know that.”

We are looking forward to the next chapter in our “Manufacturing a Smarter Future,” series. We encourage you to reach out if you have any questions and hope to see you at a future event.