The Future of Oregon’s Workforce

Engineer Teaching Apprentice To Use TIG Welding Machine cm

Experts predict that the future workforce is going to be a completely different landscape. And while the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that unemployment will continue fall in the next year, they also forecast over 20 million new jobs created by the year 2020. It seems that there will simply be more jobs available than people are qualified for!

This is a challenge that is felt even now, particularly by manufacturers. This is largely due to cutbacks in the recession 10 years ago, when following many retired or just simply never returned. The recent boon in the economy, combined with a lower pool of workers entering the trades, is causing a huge demand for skilled craftsmen. It’s no surprise that manufacturing trade positions are ranked as the #1 most difficult of jobs to fill for over 5 years now.


This gap is wide here in Oregon as well. In her state-of-the-state speech earlier this year, Gov. Kate Brown spoke about how the skills gap is affecting Oregon, recognizing that 25% of technology job openings are currently filled by out-of-state hires. This led her to introduce the “Future Ready Oregon” initiative, which will fund hands-on learning in public schools for many industries, including manufacturing, and lowers barriers for starting a construction business.


Madden Industrial Craftsmen is also helping to bridge this gap with another innovative program for the industry. Madden, a Pacific Northwest staffing agency specializing in manufacturing, helps businesses get immediate help with their building and production needs with over 2,000 employees on its payroll in 2017.


And now this family-owned business is going beyond filling immediate openings by creating a more permanent solution that helps both employers and workers. Madden has launched the first-ever registered apprenticeship program managed by a staffing agency, the Madden Apprenticeship Program (MAP), which will help Oregon build a highly-skilled, highly-productive workforce, like never before.


Corporate Recruiting Manager Kelsey Madden says the innovative apprenticeship program aims to address two big issues: the skills gap in manufacturing and lack of opportunities for students. Not everyone will pursue a four-year degree after high school, but they can still have successful careers. “Overall, there’s just not enough tradespeople out there,” Madden said. “We’re adding flexibility to the traditional apprenticeship model.”


The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship recently revised its policy to allow temporary staffing agencies to handle applications, something that wasn’t previously allowed. Madden quickly jumped on the opportunity to be the first staffing agency in the nation to do so.


Madden is a natural fit for apprenticeship registration, because they’re accustomed to finding and verifying skills for industrial jobs. And, they already have strong community alliances with apprenticeship education partner Portland Community College, where the company endows scholarships, as well as local high schools and WorkSource Oregon. Madden takes care of the HR administration, screening, education tracking and payroll for businesses.


This is fantastic news for smaller manufacturers and construction businesses because registered apprenticeship programs typically take extensive time and resources to create and manage. Now, with MAP, businesses can hire apprentices for projects without going through the typical requirements and certifications to do so – regardless of how many people are on staff.


It’s great for the workers too. Registered apprenticeship isn’t just hands-on learning; it’s a job with good wages. All apprentices enter employment when they begin an apprenticeship program, and they receive automatic incremental raises as their skill levels increase.


Madden is also a notable leader involved with the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC) in Scappoose, which is the state’s most significant manufacturing-training facility. The new center aims to create new technologies and processes for manufacturers while developing the incoming generation of manufacturing workers.


Programs like this helps the whole industry. More workers are attracted to the trades, and more businesses will be able to grow with the demand of the economy. The future of Oregon is already looking better due to Madden’s MAP and OMIC. They showcase Oregon as a national model of innovation and policy modification, blazing the modern landscape for both businesses and the workforce.