The best place to get a perspective on future workforce is to look at existing business and try to understand their need for the future. While this may be difficult to do it certainly is not impossible to see how the workplace has changed in a short period of time. We are living in a world few could have imagined 50 years ago, and more importantly the workforce and workplace are changing right before our eyes. We are living in a new economy that is powered by technology, fueled by information and driven by knowledge and with this brings a whole new world of opportunity. Influence of technology will grow faster as computers are programmed to repair themselves and equipment manufacturing and processing will eliminate some jobs but will create more skilled labor for the future. With these thoughts in mind, the questions arise; will I have a job in the future or how will I fill my workforce needs?
We are beginning the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with fields in artificial intelligence, machine learning robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, genetics and biotechnology to name a few of the emerging fields. Increased global completion will continue to affect the type of work being done in our home towns and this changing dynamic will fuel the need to continue employee training and retraining into the 21st century. As workforce professionals we are encouraging families to pursue stability during these economic changes by getting skilled, not stuck in the new economy, as technology and globalization open more opportunities, seek opportunities to re-train for a new and or emerging career.
While these skills are not exhaustive, they lead employees and employers to recognize the changing workplace and the need to re-equip our workforce for the new revolution. One such method utilizing these skills and supported by the Department of Labor and the North Carolina Department of Commerce is the Registered Apprenticeship Program. Apprenticeships are training systems that produce highly skilled workers to meet demands of employers competing in the global market. This proven strategy combines quality training and on-the job training with theoretical and practical classroom instruction to prepare exceptional workers. The process is designed to ensure that working apprentices gain a clear understanding of the job responsibilities.
The Lumber River Workforce Development Board is supportive of the regional goals to expand registered apprenticeships in Construction, Manufacturing, Telecommunications, Health Care and other avenues for employment by working with our Community Colleges, NCWorks Career Centers and Partners. More and more employers today are waking up to the benefits of apprenticeships. This can either be employing a new member of staff as an apprentice or encouraging and existing employee to further their career by taking an apprenticeship. For employers, the benefits include skilled workers trained to industry/employer specifications to produce quality results; reduced turnover; pipeline for new skilled and retrained incumbent workers and reduce compensation cost due to an emphasis on worker safety training. Employees who have been trained in-house tend to be highly motivated, committed to the company and supportive of its business objectives. An apprenticeship encourages employees to think of their job as a career and to stay with the company for longer, which reduces recruitment costs. Offering an apprenticeship to an existing member of staff shows that the employer sees them as an integral part of the workforce and are happy to invest in their future. Apprentices have equal benefits in that jobs usually pay a higher wage upon entry; higher quality of jobs skills training meaning better jobs upon completion; and portable credentials recognized nationally and often globally. The apprenticeship program has helped several of our local companies such as Campbell Soup and NSG/Pilkington close some of the skill gaps in technology they face daily in their operations. “Campbell Soup has utilized the apprenticeship program over 15 plus years for their Maintenance positions in the Maxton facility. It has been a positive outcome for our company and the employees” stated Merrideth Hale, Sr. Human Resources Manager – Campbell Soup. Hale also stated; “Campbell Soup is currently moving forward with implementing another apprenticeship program in a different trade area of their facility”.
The above described tool is one more asset that is available through the effort of the Lumber River Workforce Board Business Services team that will make your future and the future of our region a better place to live. Employers may contact your local NCWorks Career Center-Scotland County, Lumber River Workforce Development or Richmond Community College for additional information on the NCWorks Apprenticeship Program.
This week’s Focus on Scotland, was written by Regina Smalls, manager of NCWorks Career Center – Scotland County - and Ronald Oxendine, Lumber River Workforce Development Business Service representative. The article is an effort by community leaders to make Laurinburg/Scotland County a better place to work, live, and play.