When you talk about manufacturers, you cover a massive range of products, companies, and jobs. Despite the variety, they are united by their similar industry challenges. Solving these issues and establishing the industry as a valuable economic sector is what brought together the manufacturers of central Illinois.
In early 2015, regional manufacturers of everything from commercial coffee makers to high-tech circuit boards organized The Central Illinois Manufacturing Roundtable. Tim Landis writes about it in The State Journal Register’s “Manufacturing Network Seeks to Boost Industry.”
Landis says the roundtable “primarily focuses on industry issues such as supply-chain efficiency, quality control, risk management, international sales, employee training and marketing. But a regional manager for the group said the roundtable also was formed to highlight the continued importance of manufacturing as a regional industry.”
About 30 companies participated this first year. One of the issues the group discussed had to do with the labor shortage. Landis quoted Tyler Aring, chief operations officer for one of the early roundtable members, CCK Automations.
“We do talk about trends, and what we see in the workplace, and what companies are doing with training and to reach outside the local area to get candidates who not only want to work, they want to work in our area.”
A CCK best practice that Aring shared with the group was the company’s decision to hire temporary workers. This allows management to assess an employee’s skill, trainability, and interest in the job before offering a full-time position.
Ideas like this as well as those on how to improve manufacturing processes greatly benefit the members of the roundtable. The manufacturing sector is slated to increase job demand significantly over the next several years, so attracting talent is a hot topic. The growth is expected to be especially significant in machinery, computers and electronics, the food industry, fabricated metal, and plastic and rubber production.
Specific growth projections differ from region to region. There are several other states that have successfully created similar organizations. One goal of the central Illinois group is to create regional manufacturing tables statewide. By working together, manufacturers are helping to improve the industry as a whole.
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