Speaking at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the US, senior vice-president and chief human resources officer at ADM, Michael D’Ambrose, said millions of food manufacturing jobs would be lost if “decisive action” was not taken.
He said ADM, a US-based food processor and commodities trader, was already struggling to fill key positions.
“ADM already has hundreds of good-paying jobs we can’t fill because there aren’t enough skilled workers available to us,” he said at the EEOC panel discussion. “And we’re not alone.”
Education system criticised
D’Ambrose noted the US Department of Agriculture has projected that within a few years, there will not be enough graduates in fields related to food and agriculture to fill the sector’s roughly 60,000 annual vacancies.
“Our educational system needs to put a greater premium on turning out skilled, job-ready workers,” he added.
“And a big part of that challenge involves changing Americans’ perceptions of the value of skilled tradespeople. A skilled tradesperson can earn a great salary – and live a great life – doing fulfilling work that employers value and reward.”
D’Ambrose aimed a thinly veiled criticism at the American education system, which he said was a root cause behind the lack of job-ready workers and qualified candidates. He said it was a “failure” that reflected a society that viewed skilled trades as “lesser pursuits” when compared to college education.
He wants the EEOC to strengthen the links between school and manufacturing to build up a talent pool of candidates that could help address the skilled labour shortage staring the sector in the face.