Posted on 8/31/2016

Labor Day 2016: Six Strategies for Closing the Skills Gap

Karol Friedman

I hear it over and over, in print, online, in discussions and at meetings: I can’t find people with the right skills to fill the open positions at my company. 

With the current unemployment rate hovering under 5 percent, the need to find employees is becoming more and more critical. There isn’t one solution to this situation. Let me offer my thoughts on what you might consider in your pursuit of qualified talent.

  1. Transfer of knowledge: Baby Boomers are retiring at a pace that outruns hiring, and many companies are desperate to ensure their work can continue to be performed, the customer has someone that understands them and that production is maintained. Consider formalizing the transfer of knowledge from your seasoned workers to the younger members of your workforce by establishing an internal mentoring/training program.
  2. Skills training and upskilling: “Your people are your best asset.” Not the first time you heard this one, right? Most companies have eliminated or decreased their training budgets even though it has been reported that young workers feel valued when they are given the opportunity to learn. A decade ago, some of us who are the mature workers of today committed to become lifelong learners. Let’s give that a second thought. Consider an Educational Discount through Automation Alley to help train your workforce, or look into state of Michigan resources such as the Skilled Trades Training Fund.
  3. Nontraditional talent pools: Have you considered hiring veterans? How about people with disabilities?  What about the educated new citizens of our country who came from outside our borders? Can your company hire a former parolee? What about an international student who is eligible to legally work for a year or more post-graduation? Don’t overlook the largely untapped talent in these pools.  
  4. Recruiting resources: Social media certainly has some distinct advantages when recruiting. Specialized job matching systems such as Automation Alley’s Talent Exchange will connect you directly to candidates that match your job requirements on a five-point scale, and it’s as fast as your computer in finding you the match. 
  5. Interns/Apprenticeships: There are many new initiatives especially in the area of Apprenticeship training. Check out apprenticeship training opportunities at DASI Solutions in the use of Solidworks, and Macomb Community College has programming as do Focus: HOPE and Grand Circus, to name a few.  
  6. STEM and STEAMM: STEM and STEAMM (a.k.a. science, technology, engineering and math or science, technology, engineering, arts, math and manufacturing), however you slice your pie, K-12 programs are anxious to work with your business to develop a partnership that is a win-win. Look into to explore interactions with students and schools or get involved in Automation Alley’s Education and Workforce Committee.

Finding the perfect candidate to fill open positions within your company is no easy task, but when you share knowledge, nurture talent, alter your view of the ideal employee, and utilize local resources, it will make the job of filling vacant positions that much easier. 

About the Author

Karol Friedman | Automation Alley

Karol Friedman is Automation Alley’s director of strategic partnerships and talent. In this role, Friedman oversee all Automation Alley talent and workforce development initiatives, including training programs, management of Automation Alley’s committee structure and grant applications.


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