When auto suppliers come looking for a new plant site in South Carolina — something that has been happening a lot lately — Jermaine Whirl is typically sitting at the table to answer their questions.
Whirl is vice president for learning and work force development at Greenville Technical College in Greenville, S.C., and a key part of the investment discussion as businesses look to expand and staff up. Whirl's role: Help deliver employees.
"The big question they always ask is, 'Will I be able to find enough employees?' " Whirl said. " 'And can you get me 100 welders to get us up and running?' It's a very real problem."
It's the million-dollar question as companies across the U.S. struggle to recruit workers.
This summer finds the U.S. at nearly its lowest level of unemployment in a half-century — 4 percent as of June. Automaker and parts company executives will gather this week in Traverse City, Mich., for the Center for Automotive Research's annual Management Briefing Seminars, where they will be focused nervously on the disruptive trends that are threatening their traditional business models, such as autonomous driving and ride-hailing networks. But a much more immediate challenge is finding all the workers they need to keep up, to grow and to replace a generation of imminent retirees.