By Patricia Maguire and Deborah Kobes
This summer, Governor Maggie Hassan, Commissioner Jeffrey Rose, over 20 New Hampshire manufacturers, and over 30 workforce and education programs gathered at Hitchiner Manufacturing to discuss the current state of the manufacturing sector, pressing current and future workforce needs, and how a statewide sector partnership can be a solution.
Manufacturing is strong in New Hampshire. Manufacturing is one of New Hampshire’s largest industries and one of the state’s major economic drivers. Manufacturing is more concentrated in the state than in the nation, and it is poised to grow through the expansion of existing companies and the attraction of new companies to the state.
Yet, the manufacturing sector faces major workforce challenges. Companies need skilled workers for a wide range of occupations, with a dwindling number of potential workers to draw on. Statewide unemployment hit 2.6 percent in April 2016, its lowest point since December 2000. Simultaneously, demographic changes have led to fewer young people to fill the talent pipeline and an impending retirement wave.
A statewide sector strategy is a solution. Here are recommendations for the manufacturing partnership that were prioritized at the convening:
- Coordinating ongoing state and regional efforts
- Recruiting people to opportunities in manufacturing
- Advancing incumbent workers
- Coordinating across and within eduational institutions
- Expanding industry-college partnerships
- Partnering with high schools and career and technical education centers
This event and sector partnership is a joint effort of the NH Sector Partnerships Initiative (SPI) and Jobs for the Future based on a New Hampshire manufacturing asset map report and recommendations by JFF. This report was the outcome of a JFF labor market analysis of the New Hampshire manufacturing sector and interviews with a wide range of employers, educators, trainers, and other key stakeholders in the industry.
NH SPI is creating a buzz in the state, and the NH Business Review has featured two articles around our first partnership in manufacturing: "Building a workforce pipeline” and “Effort launched to boost manufacturing in New Hampshire.” Information technology, healthcare, and hospitality sector partnerships will soon be launched!
The NH SPI seeks to facilitate new, industry-driven statewide initiatives to help businesses address their workforce needs, while also helping workers prepare for and advance in careers in the industry. These innovative public/private collaborations seek to coordinate and streamline existing efforts to minimize the time commitment of business and maximize action and workforce solutions.
Read more about JFF's sector strategies work.
Photo by Liisa Rajala