Lake Land President Notes "Skill Gap"

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Published on October 4 2013 6:05 pm
Last Updated on October 5 2013 1:29 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Lake Land College President Josh Bullock told a Chamber First Friday Luncheon crowd that 75% of the jobs lost in manufacturing in the US between 2008 and 2010 required a high school degree or less.

Of the jobs that remain, some higher education and training will be needed, but Bullock said there is a "skill gap".  In other words, much of the available labor force doesn't have the expertise they need to be employable.

Bullock said in Effingham County, 51% of the adult population have a high school degree or less.  He is pushing for increased "middle skills" instruction, that being education of more than a high school degree but less than a baccalaureate degree.  Technical training, Bullock said, is a key.

The ability to complete a degree seems to be missing, though, at least as far as the immediate two years or four years after high school graduation.  Bullock said that 83% of those who enter a four-year program after high school will not immediately graduate with a degree.  Most notably, nearly 70% of those who enter college after high school will not immediately attain any sort of post-secondary degree.  He said among nations, the United States has dropped to the middle of the pack as far as percentage of those who complete a degree.

On the bright side, Bullock noted Illinois is #4 in the nation in manufacturing jobs, and said the starting wage for manufacturing jobs averages $11/hr to $13/hr.  He said that wage could grow to $20/hr or more in years to come.

Bullock spoke not only to adult attenders of the First Friday Luncheon, he spoke to some 150 high school students from eight Effingham area schools.  The students were in the midst of tours of 10 Effingham County manufacturing firms including Hitachi Metals Automotive Components, Hodgson Mill, John Boos and Company, Kingery Printing Company, Nova Solutions, Quad Graphics, Siemer Milling Company, Southeastern Container, Stevens Industries and Versatech.  Participating students attend Altamont, Beecher City, Dieterich, Effingham, Newton, St. Anthony, Stewardson-Strasburg and Teutopolis.

Bullock commended the effort, but noted there is a need to begin such efforts at an even younger age, even grade school, since some students know what career they want to pursue even at that early age.  He also encouraged worldwide thinking, noting most schools offer German or Spanish or French, but asked what about Hindi or Mandarin, the languages spoken in the two largest economies in the world.

Here's Greg Sapp's interview with Josh Bullock after the First Friday Luncheon...