Through our experiences, it has become clear that the time to bridge the skills gap is very early into the site selection process. For example, one of the most common skills that is missing from workforces across the Southeast is welding. In order to mitigate this skills gap perception within your community, we recommend putting together a few short videos highlighting companies with skilled welders for potential clients to view. Instead of waiting for these clients to come to you, consider posting these videos on your local EDC or Chamber website. This project not only increases a potential client's perception of your workforce, but also serves as a way to raise awareness about companies that are already active and thriving within your community.
Lincoln County is one community that has taken what could have been an issue in developing their workforce into a positive trend. They pulled together their industry leaders and obtained a grant to address the problem at the high school level. They have developed brand new curriculum called “Advanced Manufacturing” being offered through the Career and Technical Education Classes. The program was designed by local manufacturers in Lincoln County in collaboration with the school system and community college. In addition they have developed a website to encourage participation in the courses being offered. (www.manufacturingafuture.com)
Cleveland County developed a skills identification program to help new and expanding industries with their hiring needs. The community college has established a highly innovative Workforce and Career Development Center that focuses on supporting new and existing companies in job placement. It also assists citizens in Cleveland County by sharpening their leadership and soft skills. (http://www.clevelandcc.edu/index.php?page=continuing_education)