Workforce in 2013: Finding the Right Fit

Finding the right person for the Job – KCMN January Meeting Recap

KCMN’s January meeting featured a panel discussion led by John Emmett of Manpower. The featured panelists were Lisa Kist of Robbie Flexibles, Julie Yang-Brethauer of Torotel Products, and Clint Lancaster of the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers.   John provided the attendees with Manpower’s Employment Outlook for the first quarter of 2013.  The employment outlook survey indicated that the vast majority of US employers, 72%, intend to hold steady, and 17% plan an increase, and 8% forecasting declines, which is mostly unchaged from the 4th Quarter 2012 outlook, and a slight increase over the first quarter of 2012.  Midwest manufacturers forecast closely mirrors the national outlook, with 17% forecasting gains, which is more positive than the national manufacturing average of 14% forecasting gains.

Training Resources
David Grady from Metropolitan Community College’s Business and Technology program discussed the launch of their Precision Machining Consortium Program that will launch in March 2013.  Their 16 week program concludes with the students being placed in internship opportunities.  Additional participating companies are needed, see the link here  for more information.   Rich Piper from Kansas City Kansas Community College announced plans for utilizing a $2.9 million grant for  KCKCC’s Training for Employment (T4E) program that will focus in part on advanced manufacturing skills and welding certification for the students. Rich said the new Technical Education Center (TEC) is under construction in the former Wal-Mart shopping complex at 65th and State, and hopes to be operational by the end of the year.

All of the panelists emphasized the value of promotional activity not only for the specific position needs, but also for overall positive branding for the company and manufacturing industry overall.   Julie Yang-Brethauer noted that HR professionals should have a broad based budget allocation to promote the company and the opportunities.  She travels to universities with power source engineering grads and always has a full supply of sticky notes, highlighters and other freebies to brand the company and get their name out to the student population.   Lisa Kist noted that about 30% of their recruiting budget is focused on company promotion vs individual position reporting.  While Clint Lancaster noted that the vast majority of the trailer manufacturers are small operations, they partner with the SME, who is launching a series of videos to promote careers in manufacturing. The SME’s educational outreach site Manufacturing is Cool  has some great videos promoting manufacturing. SME also has a YouTube channel.

Some non-traditional recruiting avenues were mentioned by Lisa and Clint.  One strategy is to utilize internal office staff and train them for production positions, since their work habits and reliability are already known.  All speakers stated that retention of people within the company is also a critical part of minimizing the recruiting effort for new employees.  Lisa noted that especially with entry level workers, that having a clear path to advancement is critical in helping workers understand their options and keep them committed to enhancing their skills.  Julie stated that even when workers leave Torotel for a new opportunity, they are not ostracized for that decision, and it is important that they have a positive regard for Torotel for friends or others who may be considering a position with the company.  Torotel also utilizes ‘stay’ interviews instead of exit interviews, as it provides them with valuable feedback on how they can be more responsive to employee issues.   Training new and existing people is a must, even if there is concern that training dollars may be spent on workers who may then leave for other opportunities.  Clint noted, “People may ask what if I pay to train them and they leave? My response is what if you don’t train them and they stay?”

Utilization of interns was discussed, and was  noted that interns provide not only some new ideas and perspectives, but can also be a positive promotional focus for the company, even if they don’t become permanent employees.  However, an intern program where students were not always available for follow up on project work was less successful.

Lisa and Julie both advocated utilization of programs for transitioning active duty military to the civilian workforce as a great source of potential employees. Lisa has worked with James Madril- Johnson County Veterans Employment Representative & Disabled Veterans Outreach Program Specialist for the Kansas Dept. of Commerce – specifically for Machine Operators and Maintenance Techs.   In some cases, tax credits and training dollars are also available to help provide skills enhancement for those who may not fit the full qualification needed.

Best Practices and Takeaways from the Presenters

  • Promote opportunities through a variety of methods, vs. just running ads in the typical career outlets.
  • Make sure your internal HR person, or your recruiter if you are using them, has an accurate assessment of what skills and traits are needed in a successful candidate.
  • Know where your target employees are – and get in front of them. Utilize social media – LinkedIN, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to reach a broad audience and make your company more visible to prospective employees.
  • Community service and involvement is a great way to raise visibility and retain employees, who appreciate the opportunity to be part of something bigger than just their department.
  • Make sure your company website is up to date and provides prospective employees with information about the company and the culture.
  • Work with associations in your industry to promote opportunities both in your company and in the wider industry.
  • Get involved with area schools, both high school and higher education, including the counselors, to make them aware of potential career paths.

Bottom line, recruiting employees is not just about finding the right candidate; it’s also about positioning your company to have an inflow of the right people and skills both internally and in the wider marketplace.

Post-Script: Industry Week Magazine just published an article, Solving US Manufacturing’s New Talent Challenge, with more suggestions for the next skills gap in manufacturing: supervisory positions. Read the article here.

Education and Training for Manufacturing Success

KCMN’s January 2012 Education Forum featured four higher education institutions, and for manufacturing companies, who discussed their approach on building a 21st century manufacturing team.

The four presenting schools Johnson County Community College, Kansas City Kansas Community College, Metropolitan Community College – Business & Technology, and Pittsburg State University, all emphasized their desire to be responsive to the needs of the region’s manufacturers.  For example, Pittsburg State utilizes an industry review board to look at ways to improve the curriculum and respond to changes in the marketplace.  KCK Community College, JCCC and MCC can tailor customized training programs for even small employee groups.  The community colleges emphasized that a program of study could be developed outside of a traditional degree program, which traditionally has more appeal to a working adult with additional responsibilities.   For employees looking to take their careers to the next level, Pittsburg State has developed a program to work with students who have earned a technical associates degree to earn a Bachelor’s degree that includes both technical and managerial coursework.

One area of discussion was improving front line supervisory skills.  Torotel was very pleased that their partnership with JCCC greatly improved all measures of behavior and leadership skills of their supervisory people, as measured by a pre and post training employee survey.  As a result of better supervisory behavioral and leadership skills – communication, problem solving, delegate, interpersonal skills, feedback, change, authority, and accountability the percentage also improved in 25% and better in five months.  This was accomplished despite a limited budget for training.

Cost of training programs is always a concern in an era of tight budgets. JCCC works with KS Workforce Partnership and can help you determine if training funds from the state are available.  The school also can serve in partnership with MCC when there is a cross state need identified, and they are working towards more cooperation.  KCK Community College’s Rich Piper will identify the right institution for your needs, and will recommend another institution if the in-state tuition makes the program too expensive.  Pittsburg State offers in-state tuition to MO residents in counties in the Metro KC area.

An extended discussion focused on the needs to increase the worker pipeline.  Ben Boone of ATK Small Caliber Systems says that going through the process of Lean increases stress on the labor force, and increased skills attainment by the workforce is critical to making the effort successful.  Forty percent or more of skilled workers are eligible or approaching eligibility for retirement.  Rich Piper noted the declining state of shop classes and other hands on programs at the high school level.  In schools without these kinds of outlets, there is a much higher rate of drop-outs, especially among boys. Tom Goodpasture of Pride Manufacturing stated that getting involved in education and the development of the next generation of workers is critical as well.  He noted that ‘If you are not at the table, you are likely to end up on the menu”

All of the manufacturing company panelists agreed that having a plan for both current and future workers was important.  As Dr. John Iley of Pittsburg State noted, classroom work can only cover so much.  Students also need co-op and internship opportunities to apply what they are learning.

Jason Grove with Dimensional Innovations has hired and continues to hire Pittsburg State interns and grads, and has been very happy with the results.  Developing and running an intern program is challenging, but it also carries many rewards, including new perspectives on the business and new enthusiasm from the younger workers. He stressed the importance of forming a two-way relationship with your educational partner. When both sides benefit, the outcomes are greatly improved.

Tom Goodpasture with Pride Manufacturing has had an active training program in his facility in order to respond to growing demand for skilled workers.  It is vital to cross train employees, and to utilize training as way to keep workers engaged. Tom also strongly recommended involvement in both the national and local dialog.  Elected leaders need to understand the concerns of industry, and appreciate the feedback.

Ben Boone emphasized that it is critical to capture the knowledge of older workers, and a key way to do this is by training them to capture their processes.  For example, MCC offers a course in digital literacy where older workers can learn to use excel and other technology to help document their work.   The manufacturing panelists strongly emphasized talking up education to your workers, and making sure that the culture values those who continue to improve their skills.

All of the speakers emphasized that the worker shortage is only going to get worse.  It is important to do what you can to encourage both improved skill sets/cross training of current workers, but also finding ways to advocate for earlier involvement, at the high school and even junior high level.  As a nation, we have avoided tracking kids into particular areas, but a range of skill sets is being ignored at the peril of our future competitiveness in manufacturing in the US.   If all of the jobs that went to China returned to the US, we would not have the workforce to fill them.

Education and Training Forum

KCMN January Meeting
Learn how the region’s educational institutions can help you build a stronger workforce

KCMN is kicking off the new year with an opportunity for you to learn about education and training programs designed for manufacturing employers, and give you an opportunity to provide input to the region’s educational institutions.  The meeting will feature speakers from 4 regional education providers, who will also include a manufacturer that has utilized each of their programs to talk about their experience and benefits.

 Educational Institutions and Speakers

  • Johnson County Community College, and Julie Brethauer, Human Resource Manager at Torotel
  • Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Technical Education Center, and Tom Goodpasture, CEO, Pride Manufacturing
  • Metropolitan Community College Business and Technology Campus, and Ben Boone, Supervisor, B3 Machine Shops and Flex-Pro Shop, ATK Small Caliber Systems, Lake City Ammunition Plant
  • Pittsburg State University Career Services/College of Technology, and Jason Grove, Vice President of Operations, Dimensional Innovations

January 10, 2012
7:30 – 9:15 AM
Hilton Garden Inn, 520 Minnesota, Kansas City Kansas


7:30 AM – Breakfast and sign in
7:40 AM – Presentations by educational providers, and case studies on how a manufacturer has utilized their program to improve their workforce
8:40-9:15 AM – Chance to meet one on one with representatives from the four educational institutions

Cost is $15 for members and $25 for guests. Guests may attend 2 meetings before having to join as a member.  Sign by January 6 by clicking here , or contact Donna Gordon at 816-304-7958.   Due to a need to cover costs, no shows will be billed.

 The Center for Business and Technology at Johnson County Community College is the center for all your training needs. The center provides training that spans nearly every functional area of a successful business. Our expansive array of programs and customized training sets us apart from the competition. In addition, our expert instructors and quality curriculum are unmatched in meeting the needs of Kansas City’s most successful individuals, businesses and organizations.

Kansas City Kansas Community College’s Technical Education Center (TEC) offers over 20 hands-on technical skill training programs during the day which lead to certificates and employment in office and computer technology, service and health occupations, or trade and industrial fields. Anyone wanting to improve his/her employment potential including college graduates, home makers, dislocated workers, high school seniors, those no longer in school, and senior citizens will receive the hands-on technical education that employers want. TEC curriculum is aligned with business and industry standards. Advanced students may participate in work-based learning experiences or internships. Leadership skills are also developed through opportunities with national student organizations.

Metropolitan Community College Business & Technology Campus is one of five Metropolitan Community College campuses. Located off Front Street and I-435 just northeast of downtown Kansas City, MCC-BTC is home to eight major technical programs. Manufacturing skills are taught in the campus’ Precision Machining, Engineering Technology (CADD and Prototyping), Welding, and Industrial Technology (Industrial Maintenance, Industrial Electrical, Instrumentation & Controls and Millwright) programs. The campus is discussing developing programs in Industrial Fabrication and Biomanufacturing. Students benefit from instructors with significant years of industry experience. The college is fully accredited, has multiple articulation agreements with baccalaureate and labor partners and a variety of financial aid and scholarship options.

Pittsburg State University is one of the premiere universities in the Midwest and home to four distinct colleges. Each of our colleges (College of Arts & Sciences, College of Business, College of Education, and College of Technology) is nationally known for the quality of its programs, faculty and students. Pittsburg State offers more than 150 academic programs for its 7200 students, and provides the opportunity to earn both an undergraduate and graduate degree. The College of Technology offers15 different program areas to students pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree, and are designed (1) to prepare for employment in business and industry in managerial and supervisory positions; (2) to prepare for employment as technologists and technicians; (3) to prepare teachers and supervisors in vocational-technical education, technology education, and industrial training.

Generation Y – Myths and Realities for your Workforce

KCMN September Meeting

While having the right processes and procedures in place is critical to enhancing profitability, there’s a third “P” that can sometimes be the most difficult to get right – People!  Today’s workforce is undergoing a metamorphosis-the values, work habits and experiences of workers can create management challenges.  Join us as we will host speakers who will identify workforce trends, and give you strategies for meeting your workforce challenges.

  • Kirk Young, Job Match Assessment – Employing Gen Y – Are You Prepared?
  • Nathan Goodpasture, Pride Manufacturing, Inc. – Managing Multiple Generations
  • Victoria Ogier, MARC  – Workforce Program Overview And Update

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 7:30 – 9:00 AM
Hilton Garden Inn
520 Minnesota Avenue

Kansas City, Kansas

Our Speakers Will Discuss:  

Nathan Goodpasture, Director of Business Development, Pride Manufacturing Company, Inc.

Attraction & Retention: Creating a path of clear progress on meaningful work.

Incentivizing the risks of long term training.

Overcoming the expectations of Gen Y.

Empowering the Boomers, a consultancy solution.

Shifting the paradigm of American education (Mfg is not plan B).

Learning from local and regional programs that are already working.

Pride Manufacturing is an aggressive custom machining and fabricating company headquartered in the Kansas City, Missouri Metropolitan area. They produce plastic and metal components, tooling, fixtures, weldments and molds for a broad spectrum of industries and applications. Its equipment portfolio is diverse and state-of-the-art, and team comprised of the foremost members of their respective specialties. Clientele choose Pride for the unmatched quality, as well as personalized engineering and logistics solutions that accompany the fulfillment of each production requirement.

Kirk Young, SPHR,  CEO, Job Match Assessment, Inc.

They are coming.  The birth rate in the U.S. spiked starting in 1980 and a new generation as influential as the Baby Boomers is now bringing change with them to work.  Are you prepared?

Workforce Generational Shift:  Demographics drive Destiny.

Is Gen Y Motivated? Getting Gen Y Engaged

Gen Y is Similar to the Boomers

Gen Y’s Life Experience is Different

Gen Y Bring New Challenges to Our Values

Kirk Young, SPHR, is a 26 year HR veteran, who served in nine different roles with Ernst & Young, Unilever and Lear Siegler. Now he is CEO of Job Match Assessment, Inc. where he applies his experience with engagement and job-fit metrics for more than 160 clients in diverse economic sectors.  Kirk has directed the Human Resources and Development functions.  He implements recruiting, performance management, compensation, succession planning, and assessment systems all over the country and in Canada.  He is well experienced in employee and labor relations management.    Mr. Young has an MBA from St. Louis University and a BS Psychology from Emporia State University.  He is MBTI qualified, a DDI certified instructor, and a Strategic Partner of Profiles International.

Victoria Ogier, Workforce Development Project Manager, Mid-America Regional Council

Mid-America Regional Council has launched a Manufacturing Sector Partnership Taskforce to identify skill needs and gaps in the workforce.  Victoria will provide an update on the taskforce’s activities.

Meeting Details:

Cost is $15 for members and $25 for guests. Guests may attend 2 meetings before having to join as a member.  Our founding sponsors, Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center  and Missouri Enterprise, will be our sponsors for this event. The event is open to area manufacturers and their suppliers. We invite you to join with us to make KCMN the premier resource for manufacturers.

Sign up no later than September 9 by clicking here  or contact Donna Gordon at 816-304-7958 or

Due to our need to cover the event costs, no shows will be billed. Cancellations will be accepted no later than 3 business days prior to an event. Cancellations of reservations paid by credit card will be assessed a $10 processing fee by the registration service, or contact us for event credit for a future event. You may register as a guest for up to 2 events before membership is required. For questions or comments, please contact Donna Gordon at 816-304-7958