Manufacturing roundtable discusses filling skilled labor jobs

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WAYNESBORO, Va. (WHSV)— A group of local businesses, leaders and educators met Friday morning for a manufacturing and industry roundtable. It was the first of what will be a series of roundtables to address the unfilled manufacturing and industry jobs in the valley.

Virtex hosted a manufacturing round table this morning, discussing ways to fill open skilled labor jobs in valley. | Credit: WHSV

Virtex, in Waynesboro, organized the roundtable and brought together area leaders. Jason Monroe with Virtex said they organized it because they are struggling to hire more workers and wanted to find ways to address it.

Brett Vassey, CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association, said they're focused on creating strategies to make the valley as competitive as it can be. Vassey said the this area is facing similar challenges to the rest of the state and country, and that's a lack of skills and interest.

Vassey said low uenmployment is another reason businesses are struggling to fill their open positions.

"There just are not enough people to fill the open jobs as well," Vassey said. "So one of the things we have to do is find a way to keep more young people from leaving the region."

Vassey said the low unemployement also means there are opportunities that haven't always been available.

"More job opportunities and targeting 18 year olds upon graduation," Vassey said. "We haven't hired 18 year olds in a generation. Now we are."

Vassey said one of their action items is to work on getting more teens on the career and technical education pathway in high school, so they're able to graduate with the certifications needed to get a job after graduating.

Vassey said they're also looking at ideas like summer internships for CTE teachers so they're familiar with what manufacturing in the area looks like, and can tell students about it. They're also looking at what Vassey called the profile of a Virginia learner, through working with local industry, businesses, schools and community colleges.