For more than 100 years, Globe Machine Manufacturing has been a premier supplier of equipment and machine systems for the global building products industry. From its location on East D Street in Tacoma’s tideflats, the supplier distributes 60 percent of its products into the North American market, while the rest is exported worldwide.
This year, there is an increase in demand for those exports, which has meant more workers have been needed to serve that demand.
Laura Shane, Globe Machine Manufacturing’s corporate secretary and human resources manager, said the housing market worldwide is booming. This year, the company is shipping high-performance automated machine systems to Scotland, where the housing market has exploded. Globe has picked up three new customers in Scotland, prompting it to add 30 employees in the first four months of 2018.
“We’re growing, but our largest challenge is our ability to attract and get employees for the positions we have,” said Shane.
During these times when there is an increased demand for new hires — coupled with the challenge of finding talented, skilled workers — Shane often will look to the WorkSource Pierce Job Center on South Cedar Street in Tacoma for assistance.
The job center is a one-stop shop for job seekers and employers alike to visit and utilize services, most of which are free, paid for by taxpayers — to help them be successful.
For job seekers, those services include job listings, referrals, and hiring events; résumé writing and interview assistance; access to computers, copiers, phones, and fax machines; workshops, classes, and online learning; and additional services to help polish job-searching skills. Those additional services include skill assessments, social media 101, and networking tips.
For employers, services offered include customized candidate searches, résumé reviews, specialized candidate screenings, market assessment to gauge whether wages are competitive, exclusive job fairs tailored to an individual company, and human resources management.
The job center is an arm of the Tacoma Pierce County Employment Training Consortium, which operates as WorkForce Central and represents one small facet of the broader countywide workforce-development system known as WorkSource Pierce. WorkForce Central was formed in 1982 under an inter-local agreement between the City of Tacoma and Pierce County.
WorkForce Central’s mission is to carry out the vision of the chief local elected officials and the Pierce County WorkForce Development Council under the directive of the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, passed into law in 2014.
“Under the legislation, it requires creating a one-stop system to help people know who to call (when looking for employment),” said Linda Nguyen, CEO of WorkForce Central. “The legislation says to bring it together. When people call in, it triages their call to help them along to the right resources.”
Nguyen, who started at WorkForce Central in 1991 as a youth case manager, said there are different job centers on smaller scales around the county. “We continue to refine it,” Nguyen said.
WorkForce Central’s strategy champions a comprehensive approach to workforce development countywide; evaluating regional workforce needs by gathering, analyzing, and sharing data; convening strategic partners in order to foster innovative strategies that address workforce development needs and gaps; and stewarding public dollars to promote the effectiveness of the workforce development network.
Nguyen said WorkForce Central is in an administrative post and functions primarily as a distributor of federal dollars to support job-seeker and employer services housed at the job center. WorkForce Central contracts with ResCare to provide business solutions services, as well as youth and young adult services. Career Path Services, which also is under contract, provides employment services to dislocated workers.
In February, Globe Machine Manufacturing was one of a handful of regional manufacturers to be part of a manufacturing roundtable convened by ResCare and presented at the job center. Manufacturers discussed their common challenges of recruiting and hiring qualified talent. Shane said she appreciated the candor of the roundtable and learning about the diversity of approaches to workforce recruitment and retention.
Out of that roundtable came the idea for an exclusive Globe Machine Manufacturing job fair, produced by ResCare and hosted at the job center in March.
From that job fair, Globe extended an offer of employment to three candidates. “Unfortunately, only one out of the three passed the mandatory drug-screening test,” Shane said. “The legalization of recreational marijuana has really created a hurdle to our ability to hire.”
Zach Wirth, 18, was the sole candidate who passed. Straight out of high school, Wirth said he learned about the job fair from a flyer he found at Clover Park Technical College, where he was taking night courses to complete a certification in composite manufacturing. He earned a 4.0 GPA during his first quarter at Clover Park and landed on the President’s List while working in residential construction during the day.
“I can see myself here for a while. My goal is to be a machinist. I feel really lucky to get this job at Globe. It’s a great opportunity to learn and grow as a machinist, and Globe is a great company.”
He started at Globe in April, and within two days of working as a helper in the assembly shop, his aptitude proved to be more attuned to the machine shop. Wirth is now working as a machine shop helper responsible for cleaning, organizing and maintaining the machines.
“I can see myself here for a while,” said Wirth, a 2017 Rogers High School graduate who got his first taste of machining in metal-working class there. “My goal is to be a machinist. I feel really lucky to get this job at Globe. It’s a great opportunity to learn and grow as a machinist, and Globe is a great company.”
Wirth is happy with his starting wage. Manufacturing helpers at Globe start at $15 per hour. Companywide, the median wage at Globe is $77,000 per year, which does not exclusively factor in the median wage of manufacturing employees. According to WorkForce Central data, based on 2013 numbers, the median wage of those employed in manufacturing in the county is $63,000.
Wirth is now part of a countywide manufacturing workforce that encompasses more than 6,360 people. Aerospace manufacturing is counted as the largest segment, employing 46 percent of manufacturing workers in the county. The next largest segment, encompassing 10 percent, is computer and peripheral equipment manufacturers. Manufacturing in the county is set to grow at a rate of .8 percent annually through 2023. As of March 2018, the civilian labor force in the county totaled 420,344, representing a 4,641 upswing year-over-year.
Nguyen said WorkForce Central directly serves roughly 500-600 people per month between its job center on South Cedar and its affiliate centers on Joint Base Lewis-McChord and in downtown Tacoma.
Ways in which WorkForce Central plans to improve services include empowering its customers to find job postings on the WorkForce Central website and being able to apply online in real time, and also acquiring technology to better collect and analyze workforce data. Nguyen said the organization purchased a tool called iDashboard to do just that.
Moreover, WorkForce Central aims to by 2025 cut in half the number of county residents who are out of school and unemployed. Currently, there are 15,300 who fit this bill. Also a priority is cutting in half by 2025 the number of those who don’t have a GED or high school diploma. That number stands at 38,475.
“By doing this, we will reduce poverty and unemployment significantly,” said Nguyen.
Meanwhile, Shane said that in her 25-year career at Globe Machine Manufacturing, she has made two job-placement hires as a result of partnering with WorkForce Central and the job center. Before Wirth, her first job hire was in 2005 and was done by utilizing WorkForce Central’s jobs database. Shane said that hire — a mechanical engineer — still is with the company.
Shane said an ongoing benefit of working with the job center is that if ResCare identifies a candidate with the right skill set, it will forward on those résumés. Shane said she hopes WorkForce Central will continue to play a role in the hiring of new staff at Globe Machine Manufacturing, and that the holding of a second job fair is possible before the end of the year.