WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Wichita Falls manufacturers are are struggling to attract young skilled workers. One of those manufacturers is Sharp Iron.
But they think they have a new idea that can help them recruit welders and help the city grow their talent pool. However, they will need help from the city for that idea to come to fruition.
Each Sharp Iron welder gets a $1,000 signing bonus. They are hoping to recruit students from the Tulsa Welding School and double and triple that bonus.
"The future of this community really depends on our ability to attract and retain young talent," C.E.O. of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce, Henry Florsheim said. "And we've got to figure out how we as a community can better help companies who have job openings now do that."
On Tuesday city council will consider giving Sharp Iron $24,000 to do that.
"It just makes sense because you're not talking about a whole lot of money for any one individual person," Florsheim said. "But if we can help grow the population and fill these jobs, then we're doing our economy justice."
Wichita Falls is doing many different things to attract young skilled workers. Programs at the Wichita Falls I.S.D. Career Education Center and Vernon College are two of them. But it's not enough.
"This incentives package really is designed for us to partner with both local manufacturers and the 4A board to recruit that skilled labor to town," President of Sharp Iron, Michael Stanford said. "We tried to come up with a different twist on skilled labor recruitment that would actually bring labor into our MSA instead of cannibalizing skilled labor from one another."
"It's the most important piece to our growth," Florsheim added. "To grow this community and to ensure it's viability long-term, we've got to figure out how to grow the talent pool. We have to provide more workers for our companies."
Florsheim said the Chamber is currently working on a growth strategy and growing the workforce is one of their top priorities.
Some of the things that could come out of that strategy are programs that would help recruit workers, more structured internship opportunities, co op's, and apprenticeships.