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By Kellie May, CIS Communications Intern
“Over the next decade nearly three and a half million manufacturing jobs likely need to be filled. The skills gap is expected to result in two million of those jobs going unfilled,” reads The Manufacturing Institute’s report The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing.
In Tennessee, where manufacturing is a key component to the state’s economy, the shortage of skilled workers is a crucial challenge. Abe Mbow, co-founder of Skilled Workforce, is working to address this challenge by matching skilled laborers with job opportunities in the construction, manufacturing and warehousing industries.
In November 2017, Abe Mbow approached Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) Counselor, Debbie Barber, for guidance on connecting his firm, Skilled Workforce, with Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) procurement opportunities. The Tennessee PTAC is operated by the UT Center for Industrial Services.
“Abe is a go-getter and wants to do everything the right way,” Debbie said. “When he is given an assignment or a task, he puts all his efforts into it.”
Abe is a U.S. Navy veteran with over 10 years of honorable service. Before starting Skilled Workforce with his business partner Jarrod Thomas, Abe worked for Coca-Cola in various management roles across logistics and sales. Their business is finding success by providing turnkey recruiting, staffing, payroll and insurance solutions that enable contractors to go to work right away. It has now been operating for almost two years in Nashville, providing construction, manufacturing and warehousing businesses with skilled workers whom they find, hire, vet and pay weekly. Their value proposition allows their clients to focus on their core activities, control their labor output, reduce their insurances exposure and maximize productivity.
With the help of Debbie, Skilled Workforce became accredited as a SDVOSB and registered with SAM, which allows the company to capitalize on set aside procurement incentives from the federal and state government. Skilled Workforce is also a certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) entity registered with Metro Nashville and Nashville Metropolitan Airport Authority (NMAA). These certifications have enabled Skilled Workforce to become established in the industry and opened opportunities to partner with prime contractors for government contracting and other commercial construction projects.
An important component of creating a new business and hiring strong workers is making sure to have the appropriate tools and resources to train employees on different aspects of the business and the job.
“Part of building a solid company culture is to center it on strong values;” said Abe, “at Skilled Workforce, we believe everything starts with safety”. Skilled Workforce encourages new hires to take OSHA 10- and 30-hour courses in order to ensure their safety on-site. These programs equip participants with a strong understanding of recognition, avoidance, abatement and prevention, and as health hazards in the workplace. The resulting certifications help prevent accidents, and Employees can take this knowledge with them far past their first contracting job. Skilled Workforce employees can easily access courses through its website and complete safety modules online before being assigned on the job.
Abe is dedicated to hiring transitioning military service members into the civilian sector to work in skilled labor jobs.
“Hiring veterans is not only the right thing to do, most come out of the military with skills easily transferrable to civilian jobs, allowing them to start successful post-military careers right away,” Abe said. To build its talent pipeline, Skilled Workforce partners with trade schools and military bases transitions programs to hire transitioning military services members
In addition to his counseling with Barber, Abe attended PTAC trainings to receive advice directly from government personnel on steps for selling products and services to their agencies. PTAC is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Defense Logistics Agency, allowing it to offer these trainings at no cost to small businesses like Skilled Workforce.
“PTAC is a wonderful organization for someone like me, transitioning out of a corporate role and starting a new venture”. Debbie expertly provided me a blue-print I followed...from helping me to tailor my capability statement to assisting me with the bidding process…Thank you Debbie and PTAC!” said Abe.
If you would like to learn more about how Tennessee PTAC counselors can help guide your organization through the federal procurement process, please visit www.ptac.tennessee.edu today.
To learn more about Skilled Workforce and its services, please visit www.skilledworkforce.com today.