By BRIAN GRAVES
The director of the Tennessee Manufacturing Association said Tuesday that Bradley County is in the top tier of counties when it comes to manufacturing, while emphasizing the need for workforce …
The director of the Tennessee Manufacturing Association said Tuesday that Bradley County is in the top tier of counties when it comes to manufacturing, while emphasizing the need for workforce development.
Denise Rice was the keynote speaker for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce's annual Industry Appreciation Luncheon Tuesday afternoon held at the Cleveland Country Club.
"I feel like I am home," Rice said.
Rice said 75 percent of U.S. manufacturers are experiencing a moderate to severe shortage of workers, and 93 percent are predicting future talent shortages.
"Everybody has heard about the skills shortage," she added. "There are 3.5 million jobs anticipated over the next decade, while 2 million of those jobs are predicted to go unfilled."
Rice said the state's labor participation rate numbers 3.2 million people.
"Unemployment for the state is at 3.3 percent, which is No. 1 in our region for unemployment," she said. "Our goal was to be the lowest by 2025. That's great news."
Rice said when looking at Bradley County, employment numbers are topping 36,000.
"Our one-year projected top growth was 3.7 percent, but over the last five years it has been over 12. 3 percent," she said.
Tennessee has come in third behind Florida and Georgia with 6,491 new jobs in 2017 alone.
"What you may not not realize is 70 to 75 percent of new jobs are coming from existing industries," Rice said. "Of the 5,000 manufacturers in the state, 80 percent of them have fewer than 100 employees. It is the small companies that are really having an impact in our area."
Rice said 90 percent of Americans believe manufacturing is important to gaining prosperity.
"Looking at the capital investment being made in the region, you can see Tennessee comes in at $1.8 billion," she said. "That is third out of the 12 states in the region we compare ourselves with. Louisiana and Georgia are numbers. 1 and 2."
She said high-quality jobs are measured by the comparable wages for a particular position.
"In Bradley County, we have 102 high-quality job commitments for 2016-17," Rice said.
She also noted the involvement of the high schools in preparing the future manufacturing workforce.
She noted students can now graduate from high school with a CNA in nursing "that can put you right to work."
"We've got to be able to do the same thing in manufacturing," Rice said. "The average salary for manufacturing is $66,000."
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