Employers across the Grand Traverse Region continue to face vast challenges related to attracting and retaining talent. Nearly two-thirds of local companies have unfilled jobs. This past spring, Traverse Connect surveyed regional employers to uncover the reasons behind these challenges and to propose recommendations. Over a dozen industry sectors are represented in the data, and there were 120 individual responses from all leadership positions. The five key findings are as follows:
- There needs to be a focus on Associates degrees and vocational and technical training in local education.
- Entry-level positions are the highest area of need.
- Skilled trades positions are in the highest demand, but there is a widespread need across sectors.
- Applicants lack both personal and technical skills.
- The most immediate fix would be short “boot camp” training sessions and micro-credentials.
In addition to this short-term recommendation, Traverse Connect and regional experts gathered earlier in September for a panel discussion on potential intermediate and long-term solutions. Recommendations included the development and expansion of job-related equipment training courses and agreements whereby private sector operators provide equipment to education providers in exchange for training workers. Possible programs include heavy equipment operation, industrial control PLC certificates, SkyTrak forklift training, excavating training, rigging and signaling for construction, and a basic carpentry certificate. Other recommendations focused on earlier education including the reintroduction of shop class, expansion of career tech, increase guidance counseling, and full discussion of career pathing. These efforts can be combined with new and developing technology programs such as TC Codes and TC Cyber offered by 20Fathoms. Learn more about the study and proposed recommendations in the 2021 Grand Traverse Region Skills Gap Study.