Ken Madden asks, "why do companies struggle to find skilled workers?"

Ken Madden, VP Madden Industrial, asks, “why do companies struggle to find skilled workers?”

Ken Madden, VP Madden Industrial, spoke at Workforce Oregon Forum 2015 asking a key question, “Why are companies complaining about a shortage of workers?”

“Why do manufacturing companies struggle to find skilled workers?”

Ken and other on the panel pointed out that manufacturers do not plan ahead during good times and when the economy tanks they complain about a lack of good workers and struggle to find skilled workers.

Ken when on to outline a plan to change that.

Change the image of manufacturing and construction companies. “Kids don’t understand what we do. They will be our next set of workers, supervisors and managers. Most companies don’t expose themselves to the communities in which they do business. No wonder, as kids look for jobs they go elsewhere and into other industries. We are not involved enough.”

Reach out to non-traditional employees. We need more women and veterans. “Did you know that the unemployment rate of 16-26 year-olds is 17%?

Workforce base training is a necessity. Let go back to internships and apprenticeships. We need people that want to learn and be productive. Putting them in an on-the-job training gives us the chance to train on specific skills and see if they have the soft-skills. “I’ve been told by people I talk to that veterans and kids from farm families have the soft skills necessary to succeed,” says Madden. Personal skills are key. We can teach them the tool skills, it’s the soft skills that create long term productive employees.

Validating skills. Validate the skills of displaced workers by acknowledging the skills they do have and filling in gaps in their training. The state willing to help train and there are programs that offer money to assist.

Building partnerships. Let’s get out of our inward looking mindset, get involved and partner with the state, development agencies, and non-profits and each other so we get the gpostth we want.

Workforce forum Oregon

Oregon, Washington Workforce PanelJulie Hugo, Blount, International—Charlie Hopewell, Sunset ManufacturingLynn Stephan, Microchip Technology—Jay Schmidt, Silicon Forest Electronics


Manufacturing Workforce Panel was introduced and moderated by Jeanne Bennett, Executive Director of SW Washington Workforce Development Council.

The panel takes turns talking about the need for “soft skills” of workers.

“It’s not much good to have workers who are skilled with machines and tools but can’t get along in a team,” says Julie Hugo, Learning and Development Coordinator of Blount International, Inc.

The panel covered the topics of training, recruiting, the need for soft skills and enhanced specialized skills as their needs for skilled workers increase.

PS: I had the pleasure of spending the time at the forum with friend and colleague, Mike Foresee, VP Columbia Bank.

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