2018-04-15 / Editorial

Education key to attract, retain talent

Thursday afternoon a group of approximately 20 Imlay City-area manufacturers gathered downtown for a luncheon at The Mulefoot Gastropub. Hosted by Dana Walker, director of the Imlay City Downtown Development Authority, the semi-regular get-together is designed to bring local business people together to provide networking opportunities.

In Imlay City, like in Almont, Dryden, Lapeer, North Branch and Metamora, it’s not uncommon in a small town that local business people aren’t always aware what manufacturers down the street from them or in the local industrial park produce behind their walls. Walker cited an example where upon introduction to one another at a previous luncheon, two Imlay Cityarea manufacturers now do business together as suppliers — which is good for their employees and the local economy because it means more money stays close to home.

It’s good business to contract and buy supplies and parts with local producers, provided local shops and companies have the employees with the skillsets they need to deliver their products and services on time. When asked for a show of hands by those who attended Thursday’s luncheon, most of the local business representatives indicated finding and retaining good help continues to be a problem. With an improving economy in Lapeer County and Michigan, fueled in part by a healthy domestic auto industry, economists say we’re at or near full employment — the condition in which virtually all who are able and willing to work are employed.

Patricia Lucas, executive director of the Lapeer Development Corp., encouraged attendees at the luncheon and the 100-plus manufacturing-based companies in Lapeer County to complete a survey of wage and benefits they’re compiling. The information may help local business managers to gauge whether they’re offering their employees a competitive salary and benefit package in light of a tight labor market that offers people more opportunities to look for work elsewhere if they think they’re undervalued at their current place of employment.

While it may seem like a good problem to have in a society that there are more jobs available than qualified applicants to take them, it’s a problem nonetheless. And getting worse.

On Thursday, General Motors Co. product chief Mark Reuss told the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress that was meeting at Cobo Center that Amazon’s decision to bypass Metro Detroit for its second headquarters was because of the region’s talent deficit.

“Much of the future of the automotive industry is going to be determined and developed, right here,” Reuss told The Detroit News. “But only if we can develop, attract and acquire the engineering talent to do so.”

Currently, said Reuss, the United States suffers labor shortages in every science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) field. In just two years the U.S. will face a shortfall of a half-million engineers, said Reuss.

That’s good news if your child is still in school and is trying to figure out what career they may wish to pursue. Local companies can attest to that fact today — there are good-paying engineering jobs to be had right here in Lapeer County but the “Help Wanted” sign continues to hang outside their businesses. Auto engineers meeting in Detroit this week are certain of one thing — in order for the region to continue to prosper and for Detroit to be a leader in autonomous vehicle design we collectively are going to have to meet or beat the talent levels in Silicon Valley and other technology hubs around the world.

That’s a tall order, though there are opportunities to engage today’s youth. We’re pleased at the View Newspaper Group to be a sponsor of the 2018 Robo- Con to be held July 21 at The Center for Innovation in Lapeer. Robo-Con is a free, family-friendly event focused on getting students involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities.

In order to retain and attract talent, education remains the key to ensure graduates have the skills necessary to compete in today’s workplace.

Return to top

Copyright © 2009-2018 The County Press, All Rights Reserved

Click here for the E-Edition
2018-04-15 digital edition

Unrestricted access available to web site subscribers

Subscribers to the County Press newspaper can now purchase the complete online and E-Edition of the paper for as little as $5 for three months. If you want a six month subscription to the online edition it is $10 and a full year can be purchased for $20.

Non-subscribers can sign up for the online version for $15 for three months, $30 for six months and $60 for an annual subscription.