When Erik Paulsen (R-MN-03) hosted his Second Annual Jobs Fair on April 20th, one exhibitor wasn’t even sure how many open positions his company had commenting : “Like any big public event, it’s a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to the quality of candidates. Some are really prepared and professional, and others, not so much. Beyond collecting resumes though, we think there is value in being out here from a brand recognition standpoint, so this is a great thing for us.”
As such, it was noted that Mr. Paulsen probably wouldn’t mind if he is recognized as someone who can create jobs, hence the job fair.
Yep, brand recognition.
Mr. Paulsen’s Jobs Fair attracted 1000 participants and 65 companies … how many jobs were filled has not been reported.
Mr. Paulsen’s event included companies, such as Target and TCF, that routinely seem to be accepting job applications … and starting jobs for cashiers or tellers range from $8 to $10 per hour.
Yep, brand recognition.
John Kline (R-MN-02) followed Mr. Paulsen’s lead and held his second Career & Jobs Fair on Monday, September 19th. Yes, Target and TCF were there … but how many jobs were filled has not been announced … however, according to Brooke Dorobiala, Mr. Kline’s District Director, it was a success and she already is anticipating hosting additional Job and Career Fairs.
Yep, brand recognition.
Yep, brand recognition and YOUR TAXDOLLARS at work.
Contrast that with an event sponsored by Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association in which Twenty-five Manufacturing Companies will participate in the Job Fair 2-7 p.m. Tuesday, October 23 at Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato Minnesota.
Companies will be accepting applications and will speak to attendees about the education and training requirements needed to pursue a career in manufacturing.
Tuesday’s job fairs will include representatives from: Blue Star Energy Systems, Chart Inc., Emerson Network Power Connectivity Solution, Jack Links, Jones Metal Products Inc., LJP Waste & Recycle, MICO Inc., Nortech Systems, Parker Hannifin, Schwickert’s Co., and TBEI/Crysteel Mfg.
These companies do not have the “brand recognition” of a Target or TCF Bank … but these are good employers key to keeping a vibrant local community.
Over time, all companies will have flucations in manpower, yet if you walk through the shop floor at JMP or MICO, and there will be plenty of employees who have worked there for decades.
Yet, what we have here is a disconnect between what the politicians are using Jobs Fairs as a “campaign prop” and employers looking for skilled workers.
The Mankato area is no different than other areas. As reported on CBS News earlier this month, there is a skills shortage :
John McGlade, president and CEO of Air Products, says 4,000 of his 7,500 U.S. employees are skilled workers. His global company designs and builds high-tech hydrogen equipment and devices.
McGlade is “worried” he won’t be able to find skilled workers in the future. He hires about 550 U.S. workers a year. Three-hundred-and-sixty are technically skilled positions that require two years of college or advanced certification. These positions can often go unfilled for 12 months.
“You need people who are electronics experts, instrument technicians, mechanics,” McGlade said.
This year funding for vocational education was cut by $140 million and President Obama is proposing a 20 percent cut next year.
“Without support and continued development of a skilled workforce, we’re not going to be able to fill the jobs,” McGlade warned.
Lehigh Career and Technical Institute would be impacted, as well — 5 percent of its budget comes from federal grants. The school trains about 3,000 students from across the Lehigh Valley. According to the National Association of Career and Technical Schools, these students can earn $26 an hour more than workers with only a high school diploma.
“There is going to be more and more of those skilled jobs that are available, that are going to be paying and provide a sustaining career for years and years to come,” McGlade said.
It’s a career path that McGlade estimates will need 10 million more skilled workers over the next decade.
Doug Fahrforth, founder of Blue Star Energy Systems near Lake Crystal, said his growing company has also had trouble attracting potential employees. “It’s not just finding qualified engineers, it’s across the board.”
Larry Biederman of LJP Enterprises said hiring gets particularly tough for jobs requiring certain skills, like truck drivers and mechanics.
Yep, there is a skills shortage … and while Mr. Paulsen and Mr. Kline have held “brand recognition” Jobs Fairs, Tim Walz (D-MN-01) has worked successfully to obtaining funding for South Central Technical College for WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) and the emerging health IT industry.
Yep, Mankato will hold a REAL Jobs Fair … if you have the skills take a drive to Mankato … if not, ask your Member of Congress to be more like Tim Walz and work for funding for skills education …. Otherwise they are Shortchanging Our Future.