Ain’t this the truth …
Even as the number of manufacturing jobs nationally continues to decline, manufacturers say it’s increasingly difficult to find qualified workers.
A survey from the National Association of Manufacturers released this week said there’s a widening gap between the shrinking supply of workers and the growing technical skills needed to fill the available jobs.
More than 80 percent of the 800 manufacturers in the national survey say they are experiencing an overall shortage of qualified workers for jobs such as machinists, operators, craft workers and technicians. Part of the problem: As older workers retire, the idea of a factory job holds little appeal for younger workers just starting out.
After the manufacturing sector started feeling the effects of a slowing economy in 2000, “a lot of people were let go, and they just aren’t returning to this market,” he said.
I know at our place, we do thin metal stamping. Thin means down to about 0.008″ thick, roughly the thickness of a human hair. Toolmaking at this level means working to under 0.001″ accuracy, it means different skills and different tools. It means not being able to buy commercial die sets, and having to build our own, because they don’t make the commercial ones accurately enough.
Toolmakers coming out of the school programs can work to roughly an order of magnitude less accuracy than this requirement. So after they graduate, we have to train them “down” to higher precision, smaller work. When we let them go (and we did have to let one go in the recent downturn), that’s a huge investment in time and effort that we’ve lost.