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Job Vacancies and STEM Skills

STEM skills, particularly those associated with high levels of educational attainment, are in high demand among employers.

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18
Sep

Hershey Wins Dow Jones Sustainability Award

on Thursday, 18 September 2014 11:48.

New York, NY (The Associated Press, September 12, 2014):  The Hershey Company today announced that it has been selected to both the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America Index.

Hershey is one of only 13 companies from the Food, Beverage, and Tobacco Industry in the World Index and ranked in the 93rd percentile overall. This is the third year in a row Hershey has been included in the North America Index and the second year Hershey has been named to the World Index.

Hershey's selection to the prestigious World Index reflects the company's substantial progress in its global Corporate Social Responsibility efforts. Over the course of the last few years, Hershey has made significant strides in its environmental sustainability and sustainable sourcing efforts, completing many of its long-range goals and phased commitments ahead of schedule.

The company's environmental achievements, outlined in Hershey's third CSR report, include the following notable improvements:

  • Seventy-two percent water reduction
  • Thirty-eight percent waste reduction
  • Twenty-three percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction
  • Corporate-wide recycling rate of 87 percent
  • A total of 12 Zero Waste to Landfill facilities – including seven manufacturing facilities. Ninety-seven percent of Hershey's U.S. production takes place at ZWL facilities.

In sustainable sourcing, Hershey's Cocoalink program was found to have "significantly improved the livelihoods" of Ghanaian cocoa farmers. Approximately 45,000 Ghanaian cocoa farmers are enrolled in the mobile technology program, and farmers in Cocoalink communities increased their yields by 45.6 percent in three years. After the success of the Cocoalink in Ghana, Hershey has plans to expand the program to cocoa-growing regions in Côte d'Ivoire.

Hershey also committed to purchasing 100 percent traceable and sustainably sourced palm oil late last year after announcing it had achieved 100 percent mass balanced RSPO certified palm oil one year ahead of schedule.

"Hershey's inclusion in the North America and World Index builds on our positive momentum since announcing in May that we have completed sixty percent of our long-range CSR goals. It is clear validation that our accomplishments in a wide range of CSR areas, from environmental sustainability to ethical sourcing, are recognized within the sustainability community," said Terry O'Day, Senior Vice President Chief Supply Chain Officer. "We are pleased that we continue to push ourselves to deliver improvements across a broad range of meaningful sustainability objectives."

Hershey's heritage of engaging with consumers and communities began with the company's founding more than 120 years ago and is rooted in a tradition of ethical business practices, remarkable employees and giving back to its communities. Hershey integrates CSR into its business strategies through its social mission for Shared Goodness, helping children and their communities around the world achieve a better life and bright future.

The Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes are determined by SAM (Sustainable Asset Management), in partnership with the S&P and Dow Jones Indices. They are the first global sustainability benchmarks that track the financial performance and sustainable business practices of the world's leading companies using economic, environmental and social criteria.

The Dow Jones Sustainability World Index was launched in September 1999 and tracks the performance of the top 10 percent of the 2,500 largest companies in the S&P Global Broad Market Index that lead the field in terms of sustainability. DJSI North America launched in September 2005 and represents the top 20 percent of the 600 largest companies in the North America Dow Jones Global Total Stock Market.

16
Sep

Skill Gap Bumps Up Against Vocational Taboo

on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 11:45.

Chattanooga, TN (Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2014):  The Obama administration and governors from Michigan to North Carolina have a solution for some of the U.S. manufacturing sector's woes: German-style apprenticeship programs.

But their success is proving to be unusually one-sided, mostly drawing firms based in Germany and other non-U.S. countries. In North Carolina, "Apprenticeship 2000," a program combining classroom work and on-the-job training, has drawn numerous German companies but so far only two U.S. firms, Ameritech Die & Mold Inc. and Timken Co.

In Michigan, where Republican Gov. Rick Snyder promised last year to "Americanize" the German model in his state, almost three-fourths of the participants are firms based overseas, mostly in Germany.

Both the White House and governors are trying to fight a so-called skills gap among U.S. workers that many businesses blame for the slow labor-market recovery. Although plenty of Americans are looking for work, employers often lament a lack of qualified workers—particularly young people.

Germany, in contrast, has a long record of finding a stronger fit between employees' skills and employers' demands. The success is reflected in a youth unemployment below 8%, the lowest of any advanced country and about half of the U.S. level. The apprenticeship system is credited as a leading driver of what many European economists call the German labor-market "miracle."

15
Sep

PA Manufacturing Continues to Decline

on Monday, 15 September 2014 11:07.

Harrisburg (Central Penn Business Journal, September 10, 2014):  Manufacturing employment in Pennsylvania declined in the past year, reports the 2015 Pennsylvania Manufacturers Register, an industrial database and directory published by Manufacturers' News Inc.

According to data collected by MNI, Pennsylvania lost 6,330 manufacturing jobs, or nearly 1 percent, from July 2013 to July 2014, in contrast to the 1.4 percent national average gain reported by the Labor Department for the same time period.

MNI data shows Pennsylvania is now home to 17,191 manufacturers employing 800,318 workers.

"High business costs and global competition have made it difficult for Pennsylvania manufacturers to climb back from the recession," said Tom Dubin, president of Manufacturers' News. "However, its educated workforce and investment in worker-training programs continue to be a draw for new businesses, particularly those focused on technology and innovation."

MNI reports Pennsylvania industrial employment has fallen 5.2 percent since July 2009, while government statistics reveal manufacturing employment in the U.S. climbed 3.4 percent during the same time period.

One should note, however, that cuts in employment are predictable give the increasing productivity of manufacturing through technology.  While manufacturing has lost employment, its contribution to gross regional product and exports in Pennsylvania still leads all industries.  Low-skill, low-wage jobs have been replaced by higher skilled technical jobs among the jobs that remain. (SJS)

12
Sep

German Style Training For American Factory Workers

on Friday, 12 September 2014 11:02.

(New York, NY)(Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2014);  German robotics company Festo AG wants to make American factory workers more tech-savvy.

As robotics take an ever more prominent role on factory floors, training workers and keeping their skills up-to-date has grown in importance.

The German company sees in the U.S. "a mismatch in the labor market between what businesses need and the kind of education young people are getting," said Nader Imani, chief executive of Festo Didactic, the company's stand-alone education division.

Note that there are more home-grown solutions to the problem in training the American-based workforce in industrial maintenance, motion control, and mechatronics.  The Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board, PMMI, and the Industrial Maintenance Training Center of North America has developed competencies and certificates to guide training with input from American manufacturers.  Click here for more information.  (SJS)

Festo specializes in sophisticated automation equipment used by manufacturers world-wide, including German auto makers Volkswagen AG VOW3.XE -0.54% , Daimler AG DAI.XE -0.79% and their suppliers. For decades the company has trained German workers in manufacturing to use its systems, in the process developing Festo Didactic. As a part of the division's training programs, it sells educational equipment and offers seminars.

Festo Didactic, whose customers include Siemens AG SIE.XE -0.50% and VW's Audi unit, is expanding in the U.S. In June, Festo bought Lab-Volt Systems Inc., a New Jersey company that makes training systems for technicians.

08
Sep

Employers to Blame for Skills Gap?

on Monday, 08 September 2014 16:50.

Harrisburg (PennLive, August 19, 2014):  So here's one for a Tuesday morning: We've all heard that employers just can't find the workers with the skills they need to fill all those jobs out there.

And instead of graduating English majors, colleges should be turning out high-skilled workers and some kids should head to trade school instead of Happy Valley.

But what if it's all backwards?

From the pages of the Wall Street Journal, we give you this:

"Ever since the the recession, job openings have far outpaced the number of people being hired. A common refrain from employers is that workers lack proper training and education for the available jobs–in other words, that a "skills gap" is to blame.

But the fault rest with employers, not workers, says a new working paper from Peter Cappelli, the director of the Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.  Click here for a downloadable copy of the report.

"These complaints about skills are driving much of the debate around labor force and education policy, yet they have not been examined carefully," writes Mr. Cappelli.

To quickly recap, the number of job openings has climbed quickly in the past five years. But many of these jobs are going unfilled, and the number of hires each month has not risen as fast as openings.

Studies from consulting firms like Deloitte and McKinsey have looked at whether too few workers have the technological skills that modern manufacturers need and whether this skills gap will widen even further. The staffing firm ManpowerGroup MAN +2.86% has said 36% of global employers report difficulty finding candidates with the right skills."

04
Sep

The Jobs Helped and Hurt by Automation

on Thursday, 04 September 2014 12:53.

Moscow, ID (EMSI, August 8, 2014):  Most new waves of innovation and automation shake up the labor market. Think of how vital telephone operators were in early 20th century and the fact that now just over 11,000 remain in the U.S. Or how jobs for travel agents started to shrivel up after websites like Travelocity and Expedia exploded.  Click herefor downloadable copy of the article.

There are, of course, positives to automation, aside from the cost savings for employers. The technology advances that lead to the wide-scale loss of jobs in one field help create the need for workers in a new field or industry—and low-wage, low-skill jobs are often replaced by fewer but higher-wage jobs.

CareerBuilder and EMSI explored some of these technology-spurred shifts in the labor market in new research covered by Money.com (see here) and other media outlets.

In a nationwide survey that was part of the analysis, 21% of companies—and 30% of firms with more than 500 employees—said they cut jobs because of automation. But more than two-thirds of the surveyed companies said their adoption of new technology resulted in new positions being added in their firms. For 35% of companies, the job losses from automation ended up getting washed out by a net gain in jobs.

This is the double-edged sword of automation: it often prompts a drawback in jobs, especially in the short term, but it also creates efficiencies that can have long-term benefits to employers and local labor markets. As CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson said, “While automation may eliminate some jobs, it also creates other jobs that are higher paying and lifts the standard of living for the economy as a whole.”

02
Sep

How to Robot-Proof Your Job

on Tuesday, 02 September 2014 12:46.

New York (Time, July 31, 2014):  Can a machine do your job? For more of us than you'd think, the answer is probably yes. But there are ways to stay ahead of the automation curve.

If you find it hard to imagine that a robot could some day take your job, you should probably try imagining harder. A new survey finds that one in five companies has replaced workers with automation — and not just in low-wage jobs.

While 21% of companies overall say that they now use technology instead of humans for some jobs, the number is even higher — 30% — at businesses with more than 500 workers, according to a nationwide survey out today by CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI). And that trend is only expected to accelerate: According to the report, one-third of employers predict that jobs at their firms that are currently performed by humans will come to be performed by machines in the next decade.

"This has been a threat for a long time and there are many industries that need a lot less people to do the same jobs more efficiently or for less cost," says Janet Elkin, CEO of Supplemental Healthcare, a company that recruits staff for healthcare organizations.

Interestingly — some might say ironically — working in a cutting-edge industry doesn't necessarily protect you from this dynamic. In fact, according to the study, workers at information technology firms are twice as likely to see their jobs replaced with automation. Employers in financial services and manufacturing rounded out the top three areas with the largest number of employers "deskilling" workers. Other industries or sectors that will see a big impact: Customer service, accounting, assembly, production, shipping, distribution, and sales.

Several forces are at play. In many cases, technology has and continues to eliminate the need for workers who facilitate transactions by enabling customers to perform those transactions themselves. Think travel agents, customer service reps, and even store clerks. You see it directly if you do self-check out at your grocery store or have eaten at a Panera Bread restaurant that has replaced cashiers with kiosks.

It's not just affecting lower wage jobs, however. Powerful software is taking on professional and white-collar jobs in accounting, finance, and even paralegal work. "When I talk to my favorite geeks in Silicon Valley," said Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at MIT's Center for Digital Business, in a May interview in New Scientist, "they look around and say, man, the work of a financial adviser, a junior analyst at an asset management firm, a pathologist, a hamburger flipper, I can automate that."

Still, though technology taketh away, it can also giveth. Nearly 70% of companies that have replaced workers with automation say the new technology has also required the creation of new positions in their firms, according to the CareerBuilder survey. And 35% of companies that eliminated jobs with technology said they ended up creating more jobs in their firms than they had before automation.

"While automation may eliminate some jobs, it also creates other jobs that are higher paying," says Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder and co-author of The Talent Equation. "One of the greatest challenges the U.S. faces today is sufficiently preparing the workforce for the influx of knowledge-based jobs that will likely result from progress in robotics and other STEM-related fields."

So how do you put yourself in line for one of those new jobs?

  • Don't wait for your current job to become obsolete. If you see an opportunity to make your job more efficient with technology, be the person to oversee the change and train people in how the new system works. "Make sure you're the one who understands how it all works," says Elkin..
  • Upgrade your skill set. If you have a job that you think a robot can easily replace, consider going back to school or investing in online courses that can help you gain valued expertise. You may need to explore alternative occupations and industries that are growing and where you can transfer your skill set, says CareerBuilder's Jennifer Grasz.
  • Pay attention to trends in your field. Is job growth in your business accelerating or decelerating? Is this related to an economic cycle or technology advancement? Research articles online on how your occupation is evolving and develop the skill sets needed to leverage new technologies.

The survey did offer one positive sign for workers who have been replaced: It found that 35% of companies that eliminated jobs with automation hired people back because the technology didn't deliver as expected or customers wanted to interact with a live person.

"Technology is not perfect and things often go awry,"says Elkin. "When that happens, you need a human to fix them."

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Education and Skills for the New Economy

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Where Have All the Missing Workers Gone?

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WIB Overview

Founded in 1999 as the successor organization to the Lancaster County Private Industry Council, the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board has a mandate through the federal Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to be the lead organization in Lancaster County for workforce planning, to cooperate with State officials in providing business with locally-validated labor market information, and to arrange for a service delivery system that meets the workforce needs of business and the public alike.

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