Worker Training: How Important Is It?
Access to training programs - and proximity to a technical university - are really more important than reflected by the low ranking given these factors by the respondents to Area Development's 2007 Corporate Survey.
Ed McCallum, Senior Principal, McCallum Sweeney Consulting (Oct/Nov 08)
(page 2 of 2)
How Close Is Close Enough?
companies trying to evaluate the need for proximity to any given
educational system, a considerable amount of due diligence should be
undertaken to fully understand the quality of the training programs
being offered by the respective state and community. To be blunt, some
programs look good on paper; however, upon further examination, the
ability to execute and deliver is lacking. As a result, close proximity
will be very important in these locations. In other states and
communities, however, the ability to quickly perform a needs assessment
and develop and deliver training programs is superb; in those cases,
proximity is not such an important factor.
The fact is that both
capability and quality varies significantly within and between states.
Some are outstanding and others are simply poor. Because of this,
companies are spending more time understanding where and how skills
will be developed and sustained over time. In response to this, many
communities that may not have a technical university main campus are
developing university extensions tied in with science parks, with a
focus on integrating industry and learning at the local level.
Ga., and Greenville, S.C., are two such examples, with the Georgia Tech
Savannah Extension Campus and CU ICAR (Clemson University International
Center for Automotive Research), respectively. The obvious take-away
from this is that the states and communities that want to succeed in
both retention and recruitment have to act. They have a moral
imperative not only to industry, but also to their citizens, to improve
|Corporate Survey 2007
Combined Ratings* of 2007 Factors
|Site Selection Factors 2006 2007
|| Energy availability and costs
|| Availability of skilled labor
|| Occupancy or construction costs
|| Available land
|| Corporate tax rate
|| State and local incentives
|| Environmental regulations
|| Tax Exemptions
||Proximity to Markets
Availability of advanced ICT services
||Low union profile
||Availability of buildings
||Proximity to suppliers
||Expedited or "fast-track" permitting
||Availability of unskilled labor
||Availability of long-term financing
||Raw materials availability
||Accessibility to major airport
|| Proximity to technical university
||Waterway or oceanport accessibility
|*All figures are percentages and are the total of "very important" and "important" ratings of the Area Development Corporate Survey and are rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not point out
that the cost of energy has played in important role in shaping
clients' perspectives about what constitutes being "close." With gas
prices hovering around $4 a gallon in some parts of the country, closer
is better, particularly where a high level of interaction and
collaboration is required. How long this perception will last is
unknown; however, it is a factor that should not be casually dismissed.
sum, the shortage of skilled workers in the United States is a pressing
problem for manufacturers, and a renewed interest in developing the
infrastructure and programs to respond to industry needs through
training is crucial. Those locations that understand and act will be
the better for it.