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Clarksville- Main File

STAKEHOLDER THEMES When

STAKEHOLDER THEMES When asked generally about their labor force, labor force strengths in this area and future needs, survey and focus group responses varied. • 74% of businesses surveyed mentioned they experience difficulty in being able to hire enough workers. While overall retention rates are strong, with turnover rates as low as 5-8% after 6 months of employment, some manufacturers mentioned difficulty hiring and retaining production workers with the necessary soft skills. Others discussed the lack of an adequately skilled workforce. Suggestions for the lack in workforce ranged from people preferring to receive government assistance, opioid addiction, and segments of the population who simply do not want to participate in the labor force. As is shown in this report, labor force participation among young workers is average for those age groups. Two further items to consider as potential inhibitors to labor force participation are the use of temporary agencies and even without them, the offer of part-time or contract work as opposed to full-time employment. Survey respondents indicated that contract or part-time employees made up 18% of the workforce. This, as well as use of temporary agencies, signals a lack of investment in employees, which can make attracting highly competent and skilled workers difficult in an already tough labor market. On the military base, transition program managers suggested that veterans will often avoid applying for work through staffing agencies, while interview and focus group results showed that among many manufacturers, using staffing agencies is the first route these employers take to find production workers. • A few employers acknowledged that the manufacture of their products is carried out under difficult physical working conditions (particularly unconditioned environments), and that they have unpopular policies such as mandatory overtime and weekend work. These conditions require a unique workforce and specific programs to attract workers. For these, transitions from retail, service sectors, and military are more difficult as the work environment and demands do not match expectations. • For other manufacturers, manufacturing environments and the nature of the work has changed dramatically, with more mechanized processes and more comfortable working environments. Unfortunately, the feeling was that the community remains largely unaware about the present state of these improvements in manufacturing. Employers want the community to encourage more young workers to consider that their industries provide good working environments and career paths. • Small entrepreneurial businesses indicated that they experience positive hiring processes. These business owners relied on informal social connections to connect with military spouses, Austin Peay students, and other segments. They also noted that employees, especially the youngest, needed additional hard and soft skill training once hired. This need was met through informal mentoring with each new employee. Importantly, mentees of these entrepreneurs can remain in Clarksville and become a part of a more connected and skilled talent base. • Employers mentioned difficulty connecting rural workers to jobs in Clarksville, as well as finding management skill for companies located in rural parts of the area. This kind of disconnect is felt in many communities. Strategies to address it range from public transportation, private/ 28 COMPREHENSIVE LABOR ANALYSIS: CLARKSVILLE-MONTGOMERY COUNTY

public transportation, broadband availability, and housing options. • Bus transportation from Clarksville to Nashville was highlighted. The system handles 8,000 riders per month. • Amongst millennials ages 25-34, a significant group in Clarksville, 27% percent hold bachelor’s degrees. This is six percentage points lower than the national average. Meanwhile, the area’s occupational mix indicates a demand for people with bachelor degrees while an oversaturation of those with associate degrees exists. There is, therefore, an opportunity to transition those with some college or an associate’s degree to occupations requiring a bachelor’s degree. Labor Force 29

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