Nine in 10 Connecticut manufacturers are struggling to find and retain workers, according to a new report released by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. The report identifies hiring issues as the biggest barrier for growth in the manufacturing sector.
"There is no greater challenge than the labor shortage—despite thousands of job openings, the manufacturing sector has recovered just 38% of Covid-related job losses," said Chris DiPentima, CBIA's president.
Collins & Jewell, a Bozrah-based manufacturing company, has seen the challenges firsthand. The owner of the company, Chris Jewell, said they have never had a more difficult time hiring. They have several openings, but say it is tough to even get applications. Collins & Jewell is also experiencing retention challenges.
"There are a lot of options for a lot of people and you can go either big employers, small employers," said Jewell. "There is definitely a big challenge with retention.
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According to CBIA, Connecticut needs 6,000 people to enter the manufacturing industry each year to keep up with the forecasted demand for the next five to 10 years.
DiPentima said the state already has many established workforce training programs, connecting workers to opportunities in the manufacturing industry.
"We are ahead of the rest of the country now we just have to get people through this infrastructure and grow the pipeline, said DiPentima.
The workforce programs are already in colleges and high schools and they are hoping to expand the programs to younger age groups as well.
"We are trying real hard to get younger people in the industry. We have a lot of older people retiring out of the industry. Covid certainly has exacerbated that," said Jewell. "We are doing our best to educate and help people realize that these are great career opportunities."