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Looking at the Aging Workforce through a New Lens

Many businesses are facing a critical shortage of experienced professionals, with industries such as accounting citing “lack of skilled personnel” as the #1 challenge for three quarters in a row. Much of the conversation is centered on the skills gap, high retirement rates for “boomers,” and the inability to find the skills employers are looking for in the younger workforce. What employers must realize is that even though boomers are retiring from the office, they aren’t leaving the workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 40 percent of people ages 55 and older were working or actively looking for work in 2014. That number, known as a labor force participation

Where U.S. Manufacturing Is Thriving In 2018

The ‘80s futurist John Naisbitt once called manufacturing a “a declining sport,” and to be sure the share of Americans working in factories has fallen far from the 1950 peak of 30% to roughly 8.5% last year. Yet, manufacturing’s contributions to the economy are far out of proportion to its shrinking share of employment. In 2013, the manufacturing sector employed 12 million workers, but generated an additional 17.1 million indirect jobs. It has the largest multiplier of any economic sector: each dollar’s worth of manufactured goods generates $1.40 in output from other sectors of the economy. Perhaps most important may be the higher wages it provides for blue-collar workers. According to the l

Lehigh Valley program aims to teach potential workers about fundamentals of manufacturing

Employers will need to replace nearly 12,000 manufacturing workers during the next five years, according to a study commissioned for Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. Additionally, seven out of 10 area employers anticipate hiring new workers in the near term. A pilot program aims to replenish the anticipated shortage — by taking candidates into the classroom first. “Companies are looking for somebody they can train, and finding that right person is a challenge,” said Jack Pfunder, president and CEO of Manufacturers Resource Center. “We’re trying to give them a pool of potential workers that hopefully will put them ahead.” A “Fundamentals of Manufacturing Certification Program” will of

Goodbye, Bottlenecks: Evaluating Your Workflow to Leverage Automation

With the age of automation looming, new data will soon allow manufacturers to work more efficiently than ever. To stay ahead of this digital transformation, it’s important for organizations to evaluate the efficiency of their existing processes. Have you noticed bottlenecks or inefficiencies in your company’s workflow? Are you considering an automated system? Even small technological changes can lead to decreased overall costs and increased customer satisfaction. To take advantage of new tools and gain a competitive edge in this age of automation, start with these tips to evaluate your existing processes and prepare your organization for the changes to come. 1. Involve stakeholders early. Ma

The Apprenticeship Ambivalence

America’s changing landscape, in both school and work, increasingly needs a sound system of apprenticing. Yet many of us cannot see that a period of formal apprenticeship might make more sense than four years of college. Here’s why. We Americans have painted ourselves into an odd corner when it comes to how we educate our workforce. During the last century, as we have extolled the virtues of a college education, we have created an untenable situation: We’ve set up generations of young people for expectations they cannot afford, cannot fulfill, or cannot turn into self-sustaining careers when they do get a college degree. By now, the statistics making this case abound. Student loans were star

How You Can Win the 'David and Goliath' Battle With Big Brands

Amazon, Microsoft, Google. Is it possible to play in the same spaces these big names already occupy and still keep your company in it to win it? Believe it or not, it is. The internet, big data and the gig economy have lowered the barriers to entry for new businesses, paving the way for small, niche firms that can compete with certain aspects of large brand-name businesses. The world is running on scrappy small businesses that find new ways to compete and succeed. How are small firms able to take on large brand names with seemingly infinite budgets? By being ready to pivot quickly and sticking to the following tenets: 1. Think small and win big. When you don’t have the resources to be as exp

Who's next? Succession planning at 3 Philadelphia-area family businesses

Some family businesses have younger generations who are ready and eager to take over when it comes time to hand over the reins. Others have succession plans that may not involve any family members at all. I spoke with three family business owners in our region about their succession plans and the future of their companies, with or without the next generation. Asher’s Chocolate Co. Jeffrey Asher’s daughter is intent on becoming the first woman to run Asher’s Chocolate Co. in its 126-year history. But Sophie Asher has quite some time before she can do that — she’ll start her freshman year at Pace University in the fall. And to work at Asher’s Chocolate, she’ll need to work outside of the busin

Wanted: Workforce for 'The City That Makes Things'

A stubborn stereotype of Chicago is that it doesn’t make things anymore. It does. Among economic sectors, manufacturing remains one of the Chicago region’s biggest employers, with a workforce of more than 363,000 in 2017. Between April 2017 and March 2018, manufacturing yielded more than 58,000 job postings, according to a new study by the Century Foundation and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Great Cities Institute. That outpaced more than a dozen other sectors, including retail, transportation/warehousing and education. Yes, the steel mills are gone, but “The City That Works” is still “The City That Makes.” There’s something wrong with this picture, however. Last year in the Chicag

Alternative energy is driving demand for electrical workers — and technical schools must keep up

At the Parkway West Career and Technology Center in Oakdale, high school seniors will soon be able to get hands-on with the components of a solar energy system: the battery, the inverter and the solar panels. The goal isn’t to prepare them for careers in conservation. It’s to bring today’s electricians into the 21st century, said Michael Leddy, who teaches electrical systems technology. “When I was in school and I wanted to be an electrician, it was bend pipes and pull wire — it was pretty simple,” said Mr. Leddy, who also works as an electrician for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Works Local #5. He sees electrical careers — and the trades at large — as an alternative to studyin

This Philly designer wants to fight the gender gap with STEM jewelry

Growing up in the Philly suburbs, 19-year-old Raquel Dunoff had always shown an inkling for math and science, but was often outnumbered by male students. “At my public school, I was often the only girl or one of few in my STEM classes,” Dunoff, of Plymouth Meeting, told Technical.ly. “There was one other girl in my computer science class and I was the only girl in my shop class. This was hard, especially in teaming scenarios as I was often ignored.” Now an engineering student at Massachusetts-based Olin College of Engineering, Dunoff said a need for more female role models in STEM drove her to start a jewelry lined focused on symbols from the world of science. The line of accessories, Trends

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