There’s an employment contradiction happing in many places across the United States. Employers cannot find candidates to fill much-needed positions but there are many communities that report a lack of stable job opportunities. While it’s clear organizations are looking for the right skills for the right job, and simply needing employment isn’t the same as qualifying for one, there’s a lot of value in bridging that gap.
Chicago is shown to be a prime example of this employment contradiction. In low-income communities, high unemployment remains a major issue for the city, yet there are thousands of job openings that remain unfilled in the region. Manufacturing is among the top sectors calling out for new workers, with more than 58,000 job posting in the Chicago over the last year.
Manufacturing jobs do require unique skills and training. For example, a U.S-based company like Superior Washer Corp. relies on a team of experienced machinists to produce washers and shims that meet with high precise specs. These skills can be acquired through vocational and industrial training programs. In some cases—including 16,000 open positions posted in the Chicago region—many manufacturing jobs are open to high school graduates and offer on-the-job training.
Despite these opportunities, low-income communities are severely affected by joblessness. It is not simply a matter of lacking interest in manufacturing jobs; it appears that many job-seeking individuals just aren’t aware of just how much opportunity can be found in the sector even at entry level. Manufacturing job decline in the region has stabilized over the last several years and new opportunities are opening as longtime workers have increasingly started to retire.
Getting the word out on manufacturing career possibilities and benefits isn’t the only thing needed to bridge the employment gap. Transportation is an issue as many jobs are a considerable distance from communities with greater numbers of joblessness. Lack of funding for education and job promotion programs is also an obstacle when it comes to connecting potential candidates with employers.
State and local governments are working to turn things around for the region. Educational and public awareness initiatives have been set up to train students in communities with especially high youth unemployment rates. Manufacturing companies also see a need to do their part to invest in the community and establish more connections to industry. This includes the development of non-profit programs, paid training, and simply spreading the word about job opportunities where there is the greatest demand for employment.
If these efforts prove to be successful, Chicago’s efforts may serve as a foundation for other communities that are trying to bridge job demand with potential and willing candidates.