Schaumburg's Skill Gap Assessment

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Schaumburg's Skill Gap Assessment

As community’s around the country become more professional in their approach to economic development the marketing of incentives is not enough to entice growth. The recent Amazon HQ2 project set forth a series of broad parameters that included much more than the need for incentives. In response, Amazon received an astonishing 238 responses from state and local communities wanting to be considered for this project. That list was ultimately shortened to 20 regions – not specific communities – that could generate the labor force to support 50,000 jobs.

Since the announcement of the 20 finalist regions earlier this year much of the attention has been on the potential of a gaudy incentive package, but the real analysis should focus on each region’s labor force and its existing skills gaps. According to Site Selection Group the number one trend in economic development for 2018 will be the “shortage of skilled labor”.  This skilled labor shortage is not limited to one industry or profession, but rather impartially impacts all sectors including software development, construction trades, and skilled manufacturing.

With economic optimism and consumer confidence still strong the Schaumburg economy is continuing to see growth in sales and business development opportunities across all sectors. The concern for this growth is the availability of skilled workforce that can produce the economic generation to continue to meet current and future demand. In reviewing the SBA’s empirical data about the skills gap we find that adequate evidence that there is a skills gap in Schaumburg.

The most significant skills gap identified is classified in the “skilled production labor” category – positions that require at a minimum of higher education including a certification that demonstrate advanced training in the subject – with 21% of respondents citing this type of talent gap existing in their industry or in the community. There are several typers of skilled production talent, as noted above, but in Schaumburg the main skills gap shortage is a result of Schaumburg’s economy being made up of 17% manufacturing.

Schaumburg manufacturing industry is reflective of Chicagoland’s historical expertise in food processing and metals manufacturing. These two, very, diverse types of manufacturing have different needs from their skilled talent but one similarity that is needed is the electro-mechanical technician. An electro-mechanical technician combines the knowledge of mechanical technology (manufacturing machines) with electrical and electronic circuits. They operate, test, and maintain unmanned, automated, robotics. As American manufacturing turns to robotics and automation to increase global competitive position having a trained labor force that understand the operational requirements of the facility’s robots will only strengthen the economy.

58% of executives faced with a skills labor challenge cite the need for electro-mechanical technicians. This skill set provides economic certainty. Besides being able to transfer this skill set across manufacturing sectors increasing the likelihood of consistent employment, but also a high-paying wage that’s median pay is over $55,000 per year. This type of skilled position coupled with the wages can continue to grow and expand the economy through indirect economic activity.

While much of the attention around economic development continues to focus on incentives that perspective is shortsighted and limited. Modern economic development success has a correlation to communities that have addressed their industries skills gaps – and not the ones spending extravagant amounts of public dollars. While incentives sweeten the relationship between community and businesses the initial, and ultimately primary, relationship will be based on workforce. Recognizing that Schaumburg’s (and Chicagoland) manufacturing industries all need the valuable expertise of an electro-mechanical technician the SBA will be better to communicate with area workforce and higher education partners to address this particular shortage and generate a myriad of economic activity through this skills development.

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