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Manufacturers Struggle To Find Qualified Employees

Updated: Friday, May 9 2014, 09:29 PM CDT
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Baby boomers will retire within the next 10 to 15 years. Many of those people are employed in the manufacturing industry. The rush for retirement is concerning for local manufacturers who are having a hard time filling open positions right now.

The turning of time is creating an issue for local manufacturers as the baby boom generation begins to leave the workforce.

"We are going to see roughly 300,000 or half of Illinois workforce retire. So we are going to have to replace those positions," said Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association, Mark Denzler.

But finding replacements isn't so easy.

"Interestingly enough in Decatur despite the record, extremely high unemployment there are hundreds of manufacturing jobs that are still open because they can't find qualified workers," said Denzler.

Denzler says the lack of workers may come from a lack of interest to work in the business

"Part of it is a perception problem. They think of manufacturing from a vision from 20, 30 or 40 years ago. Kind of a dark and dingy workplace."

But now manufacturing is full of technology. To curve the public's perception, and fill future positions, the Illinois Manufacturers' Association is working with local educators to provide adequate training.

One of those institutions includes the Lincoln Land Community College Workforce Careers Center.

"We give a base line knowledge of electronics, nematic, hydraulics, and mechanical skills sets," said John Mitchell, Program Coordinator.

Currently 45 students are starting in the entry level classes. Courses include hands on activities with real world machines. Some students have been hired directly from the program.

"If a company is looking at hiring an entry level person, it is much better to have someone who has that kind of background instead of training them all these things once you hire them," said Vice President of Workforce Development, Judy Jozaitis.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Mark Denzler from the Illinois Manufacturers' Association says although it's another decade before the baby boom generation retires, it's important to keep the pipeline of qualified workers flowing.

He says manufacturing is an important industry in Illinois. Last year there was a $3 billion dollar increase in exported goods from Illinois. 90% of that increase was from manufactured products.

According to the Illinois Manufacturers Association, workers in the manufacturing field are estimated to make about $64,000 a year with benefits.Manufacturers Struggle To Find Qualified Employees

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