Five Core WIB Roles


Identifying Gaps and Trends

At the summit organized by the WDBCCC, industry representatives realized they were facing a common problem: plant operators, or process technicians, were retiring at faster rate than the rate at which replacements could be found. Subsequent studies have concluded that an average of one hundred plant operating jobs will be offered in the area every year for the next decade due to retirements. A combination of high levels of commitment associated with shift-work, rigorous technical and physical requirements, lack of preparation of the local labor force, and misperceptions local jobseekers have regarding the nature of the work made the recruitment, selection and training processes expensive and ineffective. It was common practice for local companies to recruit process technicians from other states such as Washington, Mississippi, and Texas. Ryan Hess, in an article for the Employment and Training Reporter, mentioned that to fill fifty openings, local refineries expected over 1,500 applications - but only twenty jobseekers would pass the screening process.

The issue of retiring workers is not specific to these industries. Scott Anderson, executive director of the Industrial Association of Contra Costa County, said in an interview with the East Bay Business Times that "the Industrial Association has identified hiring skilled entry-level workers as our number one challenge." Process technicians are sought to operate plants in a wide range of industries including chemical, petrochemical, refining, power generation, pharmaceutical, water treatment and several manufacturing industries. Starting salaries for these positions are over $45,000 and the benefits offered by these large (often multi-national) companies are highly competitive.

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