From the notebook of business editor Tim Rausch

Aiken County studies coming workforce shortage

Help Wanted: There are going to be 2,500 job openings in Aiken County. And there might be no one to fill them.

 

On Friday morning, the Economic Development Partnership released the results of a workforce study at a summit designed to correct the coming problems.

 

There was a silver lining in the Great Recession. It delayed retirements. Well, those retirements are coming.

 

There are 6,400 workers age 55 and older who will retire between now and 2017. There are only 3,900 people between the ages of 15 and 19 to replace them.

 

Also, there are 800 manufacturing workers unemployed now because they don’t have the skills industries need.

 

The county’s economic developers spent $50,000 for a workforce study right after Bridgestone made its big announcement.

 

The problem with a workforce gap is not just supplying workers for current industries, it also works against the county in attracting more industry. Why would a company go somewhere and then not be able to properly staff its plant?

 

The consultant, Thomas Miller, of Indianapolis, said he’s stressing urgency with the educators and manufacturing stakeholders. The county produces 80 skilled workers annually when it needs to be turning out 180.

 

Will Williams, who is the director of the economic development agency, said he’s considering hiring a person strictly to concentrate on the worker gap.

 

The fix: Get more students to think about technology and math. Get students – and teachers – to think about manufacturing in a positive light. Cut down on turnover.

 

Those at the summit will come up with the priorities.

 

SILVER CRESCENT: Speaking of manufacturing in Aiken County, Cytec Industries, with plants in Langley and North Augusta, received a South Carolina-based award Thursday.

 

Cytec, a maker of chemicals, won a Silver Crescent Award for Manufacturing Excellence in the small-company division.

 

Cytec employs 135 people.

 

It was cited for its “nationally admired” emphasis on real-time plant performance measurement and for taking a proactive role in introducing middle and high school students to career options in chemical manufacturing.

 

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