America's Largest Employers to Tackle Skills Shortage at Harper Summit

Top personnel executives from some of the largest companies in the U.S. will be at Harper College this week to try to find ways to solve a shortage of skilled workers.

Despite a national unemployment rate of 7.6 percent, large employers, especially manufacturers, are having a difficult time finding skilled workers. A recent survey found 83 percent of U.S. manufacturers reported a moderate or severe shortage of skilled workers*. The shortage of skilled workers threatens to slow a recent resurgence in U.S. manufacturing.

"We cannot find qualified hourly production people, and for that matter many technical, engineering service technicians, and even welders, and it is hurting our manufacturing base in the United States," Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman told the Chicago Tribune in 2011. Caterpillar is one of the participants in the summit.

Reasons for a shortage of skilled workers vary but include a decline invocational training, an aging workforce and an infusion of technology into manufacturing, which requires increased math and programming skills.

"Without an adequate and well-trained workforce - and today, that means workers with some credential or training beyond high school - we cannot remain world leaders in existing and emerging fields," said Bruce Brda, Senior Vice President of Global Solutions and Services for Motorola Solutions. Brda will give the summit's keynote address.

The summit takes place Thursday, April 11 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday, April 12 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Wojcik Conference Center on the campus of Harper College in Palatine, IL near Chicago.

"To solve the skills shortage,it is critical that higher education engage in an ongoing dialog with businesses and manufacturers," said Harper College President Dr. Ken Ender. "We are pleased         to co-host this summit to ensure that employers have the skilled workforce they need to compete in a 21st century global economy."

Summit attendance is by invitation only. The conference is sponsored by Harper College, The HR Policy Association's Workforce Development Roundtable, Motorola Solutions and the Community College Auto Communities Consortium. Media is welcome to cover the event.

For more information, including a schedule or full list of attendees, contact Erin Brooks, Harper College Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159 or .