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Go Build Glynn Discussion Highlights Manufacturing Workforce Needs

October 24, 2019 04:34 PM
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A panel of local manufacturing employers shared during a Go Build Glynn event the challenges they face to find suitable entry-level employees.
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By LAUREN MCDONALD lmcdonald@thebrunswicknews.com

The needs are great, but so are the opportunities.

Employers from four local manufacturing companies shared their workforce development needs with an audience of local educators Tuesday at the inaugural event for Go Build Glynn, an initiative that aims to raise awareness of manufacturing and hospitality workforce needs in this area.

Following tours at King & Prince Seafood and Gulfstream, the group met at Coastal Pines Technical College for a panel discussion. The employers on the panel had a similar mantra — they need raised awareness of manufacturing job opportunities in Glynn County.

“We have a strong need for a workforce that has a skillset that can be obtained right here in this county,” said Pam Brown, human resources manager at Pinova.

Panel members included Brown, as well as King & Prince Seafood’s vice president of human resources Tom Norton, Rich’s plant manager Mike Callaway and PaR Marine’s director of operations Davey Sapp.

The maintenance workforce in this area is reaching retirement age, Norton said, while a weak pipeline exists to bring in new workers to replace them.

These workforce needs could limit potential future business growth in the Golden Isles, Callaway said.

“We’re all existing businesses struggling to find that workforce,” Callaway said. “It will be tough to attract new employers if you really can’t fill the needs of current employers.”

The employers on the panel each emphasized their needs for employees with soft skills and work ethic. Most of these jobs provide good entry-level pay and numerous opportunities for advancement and higher salaries, they said, as well as access to tuition-reimbursement programs that allow employees to earn post-secondary education.

Brown said many students leave high school feeling that a four-year college degree is the only next step. But those who have some mechanical aptitude or who do not wish to pursue a college degree right way can find well-paying jobs at home, she said.

“I hope that some students that might have an inclination for that will be steered in that direction and really have an opportunity for a great and long career right in this town, working for us,” Brown said.

And Callaway said high school graduates going into these jobs do not have to sacrifice their ability to attend college in the future. But more awareness and education about these job opportunities are needed, he said.

“I don’t think parents and the community at large really understand the opportunities that exist in our community,” Callaway said. “We could do a much better job of marketing those opportunities.”

Go Build Glynn is the local focus of a larger statewide effort to meet high-demand workforce needs in different regions around Georgia. Students are ultimately the target audience of Go Build Glynn’s efforts, said Pete Snell, vice president of economic development for Coastal Pines. But the event Tuesday began a conversation with those who will influence students’ career pathway decisions, including counselors, teachers, parents and administrators.

Counselors need to visit the manufacturing plants and see what goes on there firsthand, Norton said, so they can accurately share these job opportunities with students.

“It’s easier for a counselor to talk about health care or hospitality because it’s easier for them to describe, and the kids see it,” he said. “It’s harder to describe what it's like in our plants, unless they see it. So we invite you to come.”

 

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