WUOMFM

Do Michigan employers face a "job skills gap," and, if so, what can be done about it?

Sep 15, 2014

Credit User: andjohan / Flickr

Even with the unemployment rate at 7.5% in Michigan, employers say they still can’t find the skilled workers they need to fill available jobs.

But other voices question the skills gap, calling it "overblown", even a "myth" and suggesting that it’s really more the fault of the companies.

Lou Glazer is president and co-founder of Michigan Future. He says companies should take the responsibility making jobs more attractive.

“When you look at the package employers have put together to attract people to the industry, it ain’t so great,” says Glazer.

For cyclical industries like manufacturing and construction, when the employment package is not great, the employers likely get a small pool of entrants.

George Erickecek is senior regional analyst at the Upjohn Institute. He says, to enable a better manufacturing workforce, we need to create more job stability, and that can only come with good product designs that meet the needs of the changing world.  

"When I think about engineers and industrial designers, I think they are the lifeline to that 45-year-old working mom who's working on the line producing a product," says Erickecek.

In the long run, Erickecek and Glazer emphasize that schools play an important role making sure kids receive quality education in many skills, especially those that lead to high wage, stable jobs.

“There are a lot of bad jobs out there, and those bad jobs are growing. And if kids do not succeed in high school, there are employment opportunities for them, and those employment opportunities are going to be low wage for the rest of their lives," says Erickecek.

* Listen to our conversation with George Erickecek and Lou Glazer above.