BY STEPHANIE GROVES
Business Journal Writer
In 2013, the West Central Ohio Manufacturing Consortium (WCOMC) - including Rhodes State College and the Northwest Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership - conducted a regional survey of manufacturers, which gave a snapshot of manufacturers’ skill and education requirements, skill gaps and hiring projections.
The survey included 52 companies representing 56 facilities in 12 counties of West Central Ohio. The manufacturers employ over 18,000 and combine for $11 billion in annual sales.
The survey identified detailed skill sets, educational requirements and employment needs for replacement and incumbent workers and consisted of 154 questions on skills and education requirements that were needed within the industry as it prepares a competent workforce.
The 2013 Survey found problems at the Basic skill level including the “soft” skills of punctuality, completing tasks on time, following directions and procedures and internal written and verbal communications.
Problems in Computerized Numeric Control (CNC) and Programable Logic Control (PLC) interfacing and programming; evaluating and managing personnel; working with word processing, spreadsheet, database software; team leadership; and the facilitation of team meetings appeared in the Intermediate skill level.
At the Advanced skill level, the survey indicated issues with external verbal and written communication; maintaining buget control; performing cost-benefit analysis; diagnosing malfunctions; troubleshooting and repairing equipment; computer networking and programming.
Specific findings of the 2013 survey included:
• The percentage of Advanced skilled workers increased from 17 percent in 2007 to 21 percent in 2013;
• The percentage of Basic skilled workers in the 2004 survey (50 percent) were much lower than in 2007 (64 percent) and 2013 (63 percent); · Average starting wage at Basic skill level is $1 per hour higher than in 2007, but the average wage declined from 2007 by 50 cents per hour;
• Largest increase in number of skills “preferred” or “required” were reported at Basic level;
• Percentage of manufacturers planning to hire increased in all three skill levels and the total number of projected hirings were lower than in 2007, and;
• Difficulty in finding Basic skilled workers showed largest increase among manufacturers surveyed; and
• Percentage of interest in co-ops and internships doubled from 2007 survey.
The 2009 survey focused on developing a skilled workforce specifically for process operations.
In 2007, the survey indicated Basic, Intermediate and Advanced skill levels were trending and the challenge for manufacturers was to continue promoting future workers up a career pathway.
Survey results in 2004 showed that manufacturers in the region needed to employ workers with high-technology skills who were able to work in an advanced manufacturing environment in order to compete nationally and globally.