Magazine article Personnel Journal

You May Have to Settle for Workers with Basic Skills

Magazine article Personnel Journal

You May Have to Settle for Workers with Basic Skills

Article excerpt

Five years ago, Mercury Marine-a Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, boat manufacturer-had people lining up at the HR office looking for work. Although the unemployment rate in Wisconsin was higher then, the company just wasn't hiring.

Today, the situation is reversed. To fill 500 production jobs last year, the company had to lower its standards considerably. "We've exhausted the labor pool," says Joe Slezak, director of training and development. "We can't be picky anymore."

By recruiting from local community colleges, Mercury Marine used to hire trained machinists and people who understood basic quality concepts. "Today, because the community college is tapped out, we look for the basics," Slezak says. "We ask applicants, `Can you read? Can you do basic math? Do you want to work? Can you show up on time?"'

To combat the lack of skills and experience, Mercury Marine has had to develop an aggressive in-house worker training-and-development program. The effort includes training in quality concepts and machine operations, as well as hundreds of self-taught programs in basic and advanced reading, math and technical job skills. Believing ongoing education is imperative in today's workplace, the company also operates a Personal Development Center where employees work with college advisors to develop educational goals. …

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