Industry Says Students Need Soft Skills to Succeed

Nov 19, 2013

More than 42,000 West Virginians are employed by the manufacturing industry and state lawmakers were told that number is expected to grow in the coming years, but industry leaders say the state needs to focus on educating those workers now.

President of the West Virginia Manufacturer’s Association Karen Price said the problem with the state’s manufacturing industry is not a job shortage, but a labor shortage.

Karen Price, president of the West Virginia Manufacturer's Association, told legislators more middle skill jobs will be available in the coming years, but the state needs more technically trained employees to fill those positions.
Credit Ashton Marra

Price said Armstrong, a flooring company located in Randolph County, was recently looking to expand and add more than 150 jobs, but couldn’t find the workforce to fill the positions.

She told lawmakers during an education committee meeting instead, the company is pulling the expansion.

 “The average wage in the manufacturing industry is about $45,000 a year,” Price said Tuesday, “and in the chemical industry it’s about $75,000 a year so those are pretty good paying jobs.”

Price said lawmakers need to focus on integrating soft skills like work ethic and communication into the education system and to start introducing kids to the field in middle school to promote the industry.