IMEC is helping to bridge the manufacturing skills gap through an innovative new approach. The recently launched Skills Gap Analysis project is expected to help participating manufacturers plan their future workforce requirements and strengthen their communities. Recognizing the urgent need for a project like this in many Illinois manufacturers, IMEC’s president, Dr. David Boulay explains: “One of the biggest issues for managers in the manufacturing sector today is knowing what knowledge and skills workers will need beyond today’s work. We’ve seen the same series of events occur across many of our client companies: changing customer preferences lead to new products, which then leads to changing the way the work is done.”
The Skills Gap Analysis project is a partnership between IMEC and six Chicago-area manufacturing companies who understand that defining future workforce requirements is critical to sustaining competitiveness. The companies will follow a specific process to identify the current and forecasted duties and tasks of a job, with the intent that the resulting information will guide future workforce planning. The project is headed by Dr. Ronald Jacobs, Professor of Human Resource Development, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. “Much of what we know about job requirements is based on using a set of systematic techniques to analyze the work. Until now, most of the techniques focus on what is occurring now on jobs, not necessarily on what may be occurring in the near future. Many manufacturing companies have a sense of their near-term workforce needs based on what products they might be bidding on or what new technologies they will likely need to invest in. The project is a great opportunity to implement what we already know about analyzing work, but now putting it all together in a new way.”
Predicting what the future will look like is always a difficult task, fraught with much uncertainty. In today’s competitive, ever-changing economic environment, business leaders likely have even more difficulty than ever in knowing what’s around the corner, even in the short term. But, undertaking the process of forecasting the future requirements of the workforce must go on, recognizing that much precise information cannot ever be known for certain.
For more information about the Skills Gap Analysis project, please contact Dr. Boulay. To engage in a similar project - focused on identifying where future skills gaps might exist or other workforce solutions - please contact IMEC or reach out directly to a member the IMEC team.