The Future Workforce

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Dr. John Psarouthakis

Executive Editor

 

Let us turn once again to general workforce issues. In this case, however, I would like to concentrate my observations on the workforce of the year 2025 and beyond,.

The entry-level workforce for the challenges ahead is now in the early grades. To understand what the implications of that statement are for the future of manufacturing, one needs to examine, a few demographics of that seven to twelve year old group which is now struggling with the basic skills of grammar and math school.

For one thing, that age cohort is  smaller than previous groups of the past twenty years. There has been a decline in fertility among most groups in this country, and unless reversed will result in a much smaller group of youths ready to start work as we look at the next couple decades. Again, manufacturing will be competing against all the other employment possibilities, but this time for a shrinking supply of person power.

Another fact about this incoming generation is worth noting. Upwards of a third of this age group will be members of minority groups of one sort or another. Moreover, if as members of minority groups they will be subject to the same shortcomings in educational opportunities, family income and general life opportunities that past minority groups have experienced, then we can expect the educational level, drop-out ate, and work motivation to be considerably less than optimal.

I bring you these facts, not as a naive social reformer, but as a concerned former manufacturing executive. I am concerned that companies, as we assimilate the incoming workforce, will end up doing the educational tasks that have been heretofore neglected.

I would strongly urge academics and manufacturing executives to take a more active and in fact, proactive role in the educational policies and practices of our primary and secondary and even tertiary school systems. Playing catch-up fifteen years from now will not solve the problem. We need to make sure that our business and personal tax resources are spent wisely and appropriately in programs that will provide basic skills and the scientific underpinning for the workforce which we will have to hire and use to become competitive in the world.

In summary, here are certain fairly simple tasks for us to perform, if we want to make sure that our manufacturing economy survives and prospers into the decades ahead. Very simply, we need to solve three dilemmas. How to develop and deploy new technologies; how to more effectively manage our manufacturing organizations; and how to develop human resources- for the future.

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