SHAWNEE, Okla. (OBV) – A large Oklahoma pipe manufacturer is taking steps to try to solve the workforce problems that are facing most businesses in our country.
“It’s a challenge. I think it’s the biggest challenge we face here in the United States. (It’s the) single biggest issue we have, not just with the skilled trades, but all the way up to engineers and accountants,” said Bryan Lucas, president of Georg Fischer Central Plastics.
The numbers back him up. According to the State Chamber Research Foundation, 62 percent of business owners in Oklahoma say workforce is the biggest challenge they face. That’s why companies like GF Central Plastics in Shawnee are taking matters into their own hands, literally.
“I think that manufacturers all over the state and country realize now that the talent that they need does not exist in the youth of today and is not being created in a proper way. They recognize that it doesn’t exist and they need to go out and make the talent themselves,” said Stewart Harrison of Harrison Consulting.
Recently officials with Georg Fischer Central Plastics put their signature on paper to partner with the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance and the U.S. Department of Labor to offer a Registered Apprenticeship Program for maintenance technicians. The certified program will train technicians in areas like electrical, welding, pneumatics, robotics and machining.
“They see this as a tool to train their internal staff but also as a recruitment tool,” said Sharon Harrison of the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance.
“This is a really cool opportunity for us. Being able to grow our workforce and give them opportunities to be able to do things that they may not have been able to do otherwise. It’s really what you want you want to do as a major manufacturer, is to have those opportunities for your people,” said Lucas.
Officials say, studies show 94 percent of apprentices, nationally, stay at least two years after training. That’s a game changer for a pipe manufacturing industry leader like GF Central Plastics. With the average age of their skilled workforce getting close to 60, the program could be their key to success for decades to come.
“When they are making an investment to train someone, they want to know that person is going to stay for a while. With apprenticeships, the numbers say that they do stay,” said Stewart Harrison.
“We are specifically seeing with a lot of Gen Z workers, those 18-24, that they want to earn and learn. With a registered apprenticeship program, they are earning a livable wage. We are seeing very nice starting hourly wages within our apprenticeship programs,” said Sharon Harrison.
All candidates for the GF Central Plastics apprenticeship program must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or equivalent.
To learn more about the program visit, www.gfps.com/en-us/products-solutions/brands/central-plastics.html.