The Maintenance Skill-Gap: Act Now!

The conversation about the aging U.S. workforce and skills shortage has been discussed with increased volume over the last two decades. The forecast statements of the 80's and 90's are now a reality.  Our baby boomer generation is retiring and we need to effectively manage their departure from the labor force with adequate skill replacement. 

There are many elements to this transition that I won't cover; however, I would like to direct your attention to an article by Bob Williamson in the January issue of Maintenance Technology magazine. In part 1 of his 2 part series, “Growing Your Own”, Bob provides a framework for growing and developing skilled technicians. He also outlines a 7-step process for assessing the skills and abilities of current employees and new hires. This is a timely and useful article. Read the full article

The ubiquitous Joel Leonard, maintenance evangelist, works tirelessly via several avenues to promote the need for skilled maintenance workers in industry.  One such avenue is Skill TV; this is a joint venture between Joel and Check out Joel's Skill TV videos to get up to speed with his efforts to spread the word and educate people of our need for industrial maintenance skills development. 

While writing this post we received notice that a ConAgra Foods plant in Garner, NC will be closing in May, 2011. This unfortunate news for ConAgra and its employees spells opportunity for others. 24 talented multi-skilled, electro-mechanical technicians, experienced in maintaining food processing and packaging equipment will soon be available for hire. 

I know we don't like to use the R word, but the fact is that the economy is in a fragile state and the unemployment rate is still high. Companies looking to hire skilled technicians in the spring may not want to pass up this opportunity to bring in new talent.

For more information about the ConAgra technicians, please contact the engineering manager, Tim Yost at

The take-away from this post is to continuously focus on strengthening your skills and abilities and supporting your colleagues to develop and strengthen theirs.  Our people are our most valuable asset, so let's make sure we are leveraging them effectively.

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