Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Industry Labor Shortages Lead to Opportunities for Veterans

The Siemens Initiative to Support Military Families, whose recruiting strategy is supported by an exclusive partnership with Orion International, was once again in the news recently and is featured in a Reuters article, as well as on the HR Law Blog, BLR. The coverage comes on the heels of Siemens announcement that they will be furthering their commitment to veterans by reserving an additional 150 positions for them. Previously, Siemens pledged to fill 10% of their 3,000 open positions in conjunction with Joining Forces, the White House’s national initiative to increase programs and opportunities for military families. Siemens has not only met that goal, but exceeded it by hiring 450 veterans since committing to Joining Forces.

Siemens’ pledge to hire even more veterans to fill many of their technical openings is indicative of a larger skilled worker deficit hitting the manufacturing industry. A recent article by Lucia Mutikani, So Many US Manufacturing Jobs, So Few Skilled Workers, notes that in addition to Siemens, other manufacturing companies have vacancies ranging from six to 200 positions, with some of those positions being open for more than six months. The article also proposes that veterans may be the answer to this shortage.

One such veteran is James Lamz, a former Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy and Orion alumni, now working within Siemens’ Sales and Marketing Development Program. He recently attended a White House meeting with the Executive Director of Joining Forces, Brad Cooper, along with Siemens' Senior Director of Talent Acquisition, to discuss Siemens' alliance with the White House on the Joining Forces campaign.

Lamz is the second Orion alumnus to be given the opportunity to visit the White House in conjunction with Joining Forces. Nicholas Espe, a Service Specialist with Siemens Industry and former Nuclear Electrician’s Mate, attended the Presidential kick-off of Joining Forces at the White House back in April.

Mutikani’s article cites the recent ManpowerGroup, Inc. 2011 Talent Shortage Survey Results, which found that 52% of US employers are having trouble filling positions within their company. An article on Military.com reports that one in three employers globally report difficulty filling jobs, particularly those involving a skilled trade, including industries that require electronic, electrical, mechanical and electro-mechanical technicians, due to lack of available talent, the highest percentage since before the recession in 2007. With statistics like these, it stands to reason that Manufacturing is one of the industries worst hit by this shortage.

Part of the issue, according to Mutikani, is that American colleges are producing fewer and fewer math and science graduates. This coupled with an aging work population and a decline in skilled technicians has led to large numbers of vacancies for high paying manufacturing positions. "There's been a steady trend of media reports regarding a lack of skilled trade workers and technicians, even despite the recent recession," Mike Starich, President of Orion International, tells Lin, "Back in my father's day, when you graduated high school you would go to a trade school or college, or enter the blue-collar work force. As America's economy has evolved, there’s been a bigger emphasis on four-year degrees, and this 'white-collar push' has created a vacuum where there are fewer people skilled in the trades."

In response to this shortage, Siemens and other companies are targeting military. "The comprehensive technical training and experience gained in military service is extremely valuable in today's workplace," said Mike Panigel, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Siemens Corporation said in a recent press release. "Veterans possess a unique skill set in technical areas that are a great match with many of our over 3,000 open positions."

Manufacturing represents a breadth of jobs from Service Specialists to Engineers and has proven to be an excellent industry for transitioning veterans. Although the shortage of manufacturing workers may only recently be widely reported, Orion has realized the value of veterans in manufacturing for the last 20 years, and has placed several thousand veterans into Manufacturing positions within Food & Beverage, Medical Device and Pharmaceuticals, Semiconductor, High Tech, Consumer Products, and many other industries. Lamz is pleased with his career choice. “I would highly recommend Orion to any transitioning JMO,” says Lamz, “And I have been very happy with the support Siemens has given me to help make the transition.”

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