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Industry News

Aug 15 2014

Nonprofits work to close the skills gap

Posted by Andy Penkalski in Industry News

In the last month, the National Manufacturer's Association has been reigniting the conversation on skilled labor shortages with their 2014 Skills Gap report, which found that 75 percent of reporting companies suffered from a moderate to severe shortage of skilled resources. This month, Forbes published an interesting article on how nonprofits, particularly one organization started by Georgia manufacturer Southwire, are finding new ways do adapt to this dilemma.

Image via Forbes

Founded in 2007, Southwire's 12 For Life program employs 230 local high school students in their facility. Since the program started, the issue-prone school district has seen the dropout rate fall from 35 percent to 22 percent. What's even more striking is the impact it's had for Southwire's ROI. 

'Southwire invested about $4 million to get the program going, including $2.4 million to buy the building and $700,000 to build out classrooms. The school district contributes teachers and transportation for the kids. This year Southwire expects its philanthropic investment to generate more than $1.7 million in pretax profit. It turns out that the kids, who work in four-hour shifts, have higher rates of productivity than grown-ups in Southwire’s other factories.' –via

For companies to proactively curb both dropout rights and their battles with the skills gap is pretty inspired. The fact that manufacturers have found ways to also improve profitability while doing so is just good business.