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Institute News

Applying data expertise to manufacturing survey

An in-depth survey of Massachusetts manufacturing businesses has revealed that employers may not be taking full advantage of the state’s locally based manufacturing workforce training providers when creating and filling positions. In a project aimed at quantifying the challenges facing the state’s manufacturing industry, researchers at the University of Massachusetts surveyed 1,350 Massachusetts manufacturers in six separate regions of the state, hoping to assess their current staffing needs and occupational skills requirements. They also looked at sectoral variations, long-term challenges, and how well firms understood and utilized existing state and regional resources. UMass Donahue Institute data manager John Gaviglio developed an online tool which tabulates the survey’s answers, making the data available for use by regional partnerships and other key stakeholders.

An article covering the survey and several workforce development initiatives dedicated to bolstering the state’s manufacturing sector appeared in the Boston Globe.  The survey found that few companies collaborated regularly with educational and training organizations that can help provide skilled workers. Instead, 69 percent said they never worked with a community college, 73 percent said they never tapped a comprehensive high school, and 76 percent said they never reached out to a four-year university. More than 80 percent said they have never contacted local workforce investment boards, which help support training programs.

As part of the broader Advanced Manufacturing Regional Partnership Academy initiative, the UMass Donahue Institute also developed a comprehensive database of all manufacturing companies in the Commonwealth and distributed this establishment-level information to regional and state partners working to support and grow the manufacturing industry.

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