Confronting the Labor Shortage in Manufacturing

As the rest of the country concerns itself with issues of unemployment, minimum wages, the length of unemployment help, workforce participation rates, quit rates and all the rest there is the manufacturing sector. The vast majority of manufacturers have had those “help wanted” signs hanging on their doors so long they have become overgrown. The lack of skilled workers has been acute for years and even decades and it gets worse every year as the existing workforce ages. The average age of a skilled worker is now in the 50s and many of the most experienced are close to retirement or have been persuaded to stay on a little longer. The high rate of joblessness last year did nothing to alter the situation as very few of those that lost their jobs had the skills to get new ones in manufacturing. What, if anything, can be done? It starts and ends with exposure and education. The reality is that there are millions of jobs on offer and there are millions of people who would appreciate these employment opportunities. The question is how to prepare the one for the other and how to connect them. The education system is woefully inadequate when it comes to providing the kind of training needed for sectors such as manufacturing or construction or transportation. The people that are drawn to these careers are generally classified as “kinetic learners”. That means they learn with their hands – by making things and doing things. They are not well served by education that focuses on reading, listening to lectures and the like. Fully 25% of everyone in the workforce is a kinetic learner. Somehow, they need to get exposure to the employment opportunities that exist in manufacturing and other sectors. This burden is going to fall on the manufacturers for the most part as too few of the schools really understand the issue. That means engaging in everything from plant tours to sponsoring/participating in competitions that get students exposed and excited. It also means pressuring the schools to step it up.

To Learn more about opportunities associated with fabrication industry, check out the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International website at . Keddie Enterprises supports initiatives that develop the future crafts people necessary for the U.S. to remain a leading manufacturing country in the world economy. Please contact us for your machining, fabrication, prototype, and assembly manufacturing needs.

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