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States Recognize Need for Workforce Development Programs

Companies looking to expand their manufacturing operations are likely to consider states with well-trained workforces.

Q3 2014
To compete effectively in the global marketplace, states continue to revise their tax structures and incentive programs to attract new jobs and capital investment. Companies looking to expand their manufacturing operations in today’s global marketplace likely will consider states with a pro-business environment and a well-trained workforce. As the economy and technology continue to evolve, states and employers are working together to make sure that workers develop the skills they need to meet the requirements of the advanced manufacturing jobs available in the 21st century.

While the national production workforce continues to decline as a whole, manufacturing jobs continue to boost our economic recovery. Manufacturing expansions have been on the rise the past two years as the national economy strengthens from the 2008 recession. As previously noted in Area Development’s 28th annual Corporate Survey as well as its 10th annual Consultants Survey, both corporate decision-makers and consultants to industry rank “availability of skilled labor” as the most important factor in deciding on a location for business. Current trends in manufacturing require employees to have advanced knowledge and skills, and accessibility to such a well-trained workforce helps in determining a state’s competitive edge for new capital investment and jobs. Employers are finding that the labor force has not adapted, however, which has resulted in more low-skilled and low-wage workers.

Worth noting from this year’s survey of site consultants is that several of the states that were ranked at the top for overall labor climate, availability of skilled labor, and competitive labor costs also happen to be states that have a higher sector of their workforce in manufacturing. This might suggest that these states have recognized their employers’ needs and take a larger role in developing workforce programs to match those needs.

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