Future of Workforce Symposium provides learning opportunity for employers

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 5:46 PM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - Companies across the country continue to face difficulties attracting employees, but employers are not stopping their efforts to finding potential solutions.

John Wood Community College hosted a Future of Workforce: Training and Retaining Symposium.

The school partnered with local and state manufacturers and the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center to present the symposium. The event was intended to educate employers and allowed different industry leaders to pitch their ideas to better attract workers.

“Workforce is the foundation of their operation. That’s the heart and soul of the things that they’re making and the products and processes they’re providing” Johns said.

Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center Vice President of Marketing Kristy Johns said tactics to find talent and efficiently train employees aren’t all that manufacturers should be looking to improve.

“Happy employees and happy workers make for a really happy place to work, but it makes for better quality better productivity and more efficiency when it comes to the job they’re doing,” Johns said.

Other panel topics dove into diversity, equity and inclusion.

Some experts encouraged companies to look into broadening their search to include nontraditional candidates.

Illinois Manufacturing Association Vice President of Education and Workforce Policy Sarah Hartwick said before the trades can recruit outside traditional workers, they must change the factory worker narrative.

“The goal is to change the optics of manufacturing careers that it is no longer dark dirty and dangerous and that it is clean, high-tech, sustainable and that is a long term goal and so starting with events like this talking with the students the employees of tomorrow and making that message clear,” Hartwick said. “I also think at the same time there are a lot of students who are passionate about manufacturing, but may not really even understand what that means and so it is even bringing the passion and the dedication to a career back to those students through events like this.”

In order to help show employers and potential employees how they have changed the narrative, Knaphiede’s Manufacturing Company is opening their doors to symposium attendees as the future of workforce event continues.

Hartwick said everyone within the community plays a vital role in helping support the local economy, particularly manufacturers. That’s why she said events like this are crucial to help find workers

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