Leaders of the RV and marine industries in Elkhart, Ind., repeated their needs for more qualified workers to fill vacant positions as they visited with U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski on Thursday.
“We are struggling to find skilled labor,” said Mindy McIntire, director of marketing for Transhield, an Elkhart company that makes protective fabric coverings for RVs, boats and other heavy equipment. “We can find bodies, but we need people who are skilled in sewing and that seems to be a lost art.”
Mark Lucas, vice president of Furrion, a supplier to the RV and boating sectors, said the company is trying to attract workers from outside the area, hoping to add to the labor pool, in part with internship programs targeting schools outside the immediate area, according to the Elkhart Truth.
“We’re all fighting for the same workforce and that same labor pool,” he said. “Right now, we just keep fishing in the same pond … We use the same pool. We want to expand that pool.”
Fourteen representatives from the RV and boating industries took part in Thursday’s gathering, talking with Walorski around a table at Lexington Corp., an Elkhart-based manufacturer that serves the RV and boating industries. The National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, both trade groups, hosted the meeting.
Walorski, speaking after the 50-minute meeting, said federal authorities can assist with training grants. But she also expressed faith in industry leaders to come up with solutions to the labor shortage, alluding to initiatives like Furrion’s. McIntire, similarly, said her company has reached out to the Elkhart Area Career Center about creating a program to train people skilled in sewing.