One company trying to get ahead in terms of the coming workforce shortage is CNH Global, the international manufacturer of construction and agricultural equipment.
The Racine, Wis.-based firm, has a global workforce of about 25,000, of which 9,000 work in North America in 11 factories.
"We have a substantial percentage of both our salaried and hourly workers that will be retiring in the next five to 10 years, and we are aware that demographic projections anticipate a skilled labor shortage starting in 2006, but really about 2011," says Mike Jack, vice president for human resources for North America. "There is a projected skills gap by 2020 of about 14 million people."
To prepare, CNH placed its bets on an aggressive college recruiting program to bring new blood into the company.
"Our strategy was to make a major effort in college recruiting," says Jack. "In the last year, we visited 24 career fairs on college campuses." CNH hires skilled tradesmen, engineers and people with a background in financial services.
Another strategy lies in emphasizing diversity because of the projected explosion in minority populations in the United States. "By 2015, a growing pecentage of undergraduates will be Asian, Hispanic and African-American," he says.
While 80 percent of the company's operations are in North America and Europe, the remaining operations are in other countries. "We do have joint ventures in Turkey, India, Pakistan, Mexico, and China, and we've done some outsourcing in our capital group to India," Jack says.
Demographic experts point out that companies have run into a labor shotage for years in rural areas.
Still, for CNH, that crisis was immediate after it ran into some labor difficulties at its Grand Island manufacturing facility five years ago following the launch of three new families of combine harvesters.
April 15, 2005
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