Forum aims to encourage veterans to work in manufacturing

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)-- The Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Arconic Foundation, Washburn Institute of Technology and The Manufacturing Institute hosted a forum to help bridge the gap between the manufacturing sector and qualified workers.

According to the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, 80% of manufacturers say that there is a talent shortage in manufacturing positions across the country.

The Military to Manufacturing forum was geared toward equipping manufacturers to recruit and retain veterans who are interested in working in the manufacturing sector. Carolyn Lee, Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute, says that veterans possess the skills that the manufacturing industry desires.

“We forecast there will be about 2 million unfilled jobs in the sector between 2015 and 2025,” Lee says. “To really fulfill those, we need to bring more workers into the sector into the workforce and we need them to have skills. Military has a lot of those skills.”

According to the Manufacturing Institute, the industry is one of the most important in the U.S., and is also the tenth largest economy in the world.

This makes it vital to hire qualified workers, and Koch Industries representative John Buckley says that there are many reasons why veterans fit the bill.

“They have integrity, they are focused on compliance which is very important in the manufacturing environment,” Buckley says. “They are also very creative and critical thinkers, and they can take the initiative.”

Representatives at the forum say that the event was a success, and they plan to host it again next year.