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From the Desk of Jack Healy

Manufacturing Company Shows How to Cope with the Skills Shortage

By Jack Healy, Director of Operations, MassMEP [email protected]

Jack Healy – The voice of manufacturing in Massachusetts
Jack Healy –
A Voice for Manufacturing in Massachusetts

Borg Design, an expanding Hudson machining and engineering consulting company, recently purchased and moved to a 58,000 sq. ft. facility, doubling their previous workspace. Ted Bauer, MassMEP Director of Workforce Strategies, interviewed the principles about the personnel challenges they faced during the expansion and what they expect to face going forward.

Borg Design utilizes state of the art CNC machining equipment to make molds and parts with complex surfaces. Andrew Borg, President of Borg Design, stated, "The most difficult part of our expansion was to find skilled machinists that can do the demanding work that we do. Our employees need to be able to offer solutions along with their work." He said that they had placed ads for machinists, but got no responses. 

Brandon Borg, VP at Borg Design, emphasized that to fill their needs over the last several years, the company has relied on MassMEP’s "More Skilled Workers Program" to serve as a pipeline for new employees.

The Borg Design management team.

The skills gap is only going to get worse according Deloitte’s new report, "The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing: 2015 and Beyond."

Source: Deloitte, The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing: 2015 and Beyond.

Brandon stated, "We participate in the job fairs to interview and assess the people who have completed the training and we have been able to find people who can fit our needs. Through this program we have not only connected with people who have some CNC training, but the hiring decision is made easier due to the financial OJT subsidy that makes the new employee more affordable and allows us to invest in the additional training required."

Both Andrew and Brandon note,

"Approximately 25% of our current production workforce has come out of the MassMEP training program and we are planning to hire more."       

Karl Borg, Founder; K. Andrew Borg, President, and Brandon Borg, VP are approaching the manufacturing skills gap creatively at Borg Design.

Borg Design has done what is recommended for all manufacturers in order to meet current and future staffing needs. Small manufacturers, especially, like Borg Design, represent 82% of the state’s manufacturing enterprises; they need to rethink their recruiting strategies.

Prior to 2009, manufacturers in Massachusetts sought new hires from a pool of experienced and work-ready personnel who came from businesses that had closed or downsized.  This consolidation process caused a lack of demand for the existing training pipeline, which in turn atrophied and, in a number of cases, completely dissolved.  In conjunction, we have seen dramatic changes in the overall nature of manufacturing work; labor-intensive jobs and even technology developments have been outsourced to the point where today’s workers are producing 50% more product than they did just a few years ago within many industries.

This, coupled with a limited pool of labor that is devoid of work experience but may be interested in working in manufacturing, makes the traditional recruitment method of "Help Wanted advertising" obsolete, especially as fewer of the younger generation even read a newspaper.

MassMEP recognized the need to provide the small manufacturing enterprise community with a pool of prescreened job candidates with basic manufacturing skills. In 2012, with a U.S. Department of Labor grant, MassMEP used the "Massachusetts More Skilled Workers Program" to form a training collaborative with such providers as Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Quinsigamond Community College to help deliver 280 hours of applied classroom and hands-on instruction. The plan was to provide 216 certified/accredited workers with training, placement, and mentoring for specific jobs and careers in advanced manufacturing. To date, one of the training courses, Advanced CNC Skills, has graduated over 675 students. A similar MassMEP program with a different training format placed over 1,000 workers in manufacturing jobs prior to 2009.

A Model to Duplicate in Other Regions
Governor Charlie Baker, recognizing the labor issues facing the manufacturing community , has created a cabinet within the state administration focused on Workforce Development .  This cabinet will be chaired by Secretary of Labor and Workforce  Development Ron Walker and will include Secretary of Education Jim Peyser and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Jay Ash. 

Secretary Walker stated that the cabinet "will be looking at ways to align education, jobs, and workforce training so that schools and workforce development organizations are training people for existing jobs." Governor Baker is on record that Worcester’s  training model includes "the community colleges, private institutions like Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and others who collaborate to create training programs in advanced manufacturing." 

The Governor stated,

"This is a great example of something that works and the kind of thing we should figure out on how to build on."

Anyone interested in learning how to do build such a system, for their area should contact Ted Bauer at [email protected].


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