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24 PCB007 MAGAZINE I FEBRUARY 2020 The U.S. economy has remained surprising- ly resilient, and the result has been that the country's unemployment has continued to inch lower. It's now at 3.5%, the lowest rate since 1969 [1] , and that rate could go even lower as the U.S. boasts more than 7 million job openings [2] . Those job openings suggest an opportunity for workers but a tight labor market for employers. For the electronics manufacturing industry, tal- ent and retention have always been top con- cerns, but the situation is worsening. Today, more than 60% of U.S. manufacturers say that an inability to find and retain skilled workers is constraining their growth and undermining their global competitiveness [3] . The same story is true around the world. During my latest international listening tour of manufacturing plants in France, Germany, In- dia, Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand, I again not- ed that the challenges faced in the United States extend beyond our borders. The good news is that, through shared experience, we can develop shared insights and solutions. In that vein, I'd like to offer the conclusions I've drawn from my meetings with operators and managers across the electronics industry about the current labor environment. Lesson 1: An open-minded approach to hiring based on industry interest, not just skill, can result in new long-term talent. During the recruitment process, seeking out potential employees who hold genuine interest and passion for the industry even if they don't yet pose the skills can provide a new source to fill long-term workforce gaps. It's okay to hire an employee with minimal training; that's where company education programs come in. In Japan, one manufacturing plant hires opera- tors interested in the job without a back- ground in the industry. The workers are One World, One Industry by Dr. John Mitchell, IPC—ASSOCIATION CONNECTING ELECTRONICS INDUSTRIES Three Workforce Lessons From Manufacturing Plants Around the World

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