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Quality Information Helps Metals Manufacturing Make Sound Decisions

Gunderson_scott_eave_191Gunderson, Inc., a heavy manufacturer of railcars and barges in Portland, faces the future much like other manufacturers - knowing the competition will be stiff and that changes are inevitable. Could solid research about variables like workforce availability, demographic changes, economic trends, and the availability of training help manufacturers plan for the future?
That's what Human Resource Manager Scott Eave was asking himself after a presentation on workforce issues during a Portland Development Commission breakfast meeting.
The presenters were Regional Economist Amy Vander Vliet and Workforce Analyst Christian Kaylor, both of the WorkSource Oregon Employment Department's Workforce & Economic Research Division. The information they presented left a favorable impression on Scott and the group.
"They did a marvelous job, had great information, and were very well received. They shared information that was understandable and digestible. They didn't talk over our heads," Scott said.
Scott thought other metal manufactures could also benefit from similar informative insights, so he invited Christian to speak to a group of metal fabricators. Christian presented a profile of the metals fabrication industry, workforce availability, and a demographics overview to this new group.
Scott remarked that the industry didn't recognize themselves and that the information changed the way they look at the workforce and their business.
"Christian's presentation became the cornerstone for changes to the macro perspective of our industry," Scott said. "It unified the people in our industry."
The data provided the catalyst for the formation of the Metals Industry Consortium. Today, the group develops strategies around recruitment, workforce issues, and the marketing of their products.
"We know that we have to be prepared for the future," Scott explains.
Using the information provided by Christian, the consortium has developed relationships with the Portland Public School System, the metals industry, the community, state and local government, and the governor's office.
"We are planning for the future and preparing for the demographic changes that will impact our workforce," Scott said. "What you folks do is vital to business. The resource is easily accessible, understandable, and I feel it's undervalued."
Workforce and economic information is available 24/7 by visiting http://www.qualityinfo.org/.


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