Factories Fret Over Shortage of Skilled Workers

CiNet Blog 8

Manufacturers are scouring for skilled workers and coming up short. More and more plant owners are resorting to industrial training to cope.

As American factories see a vital upsurge in business, they’re finally delivering jobs to a public parched by unemployment. But manufacturers aren’t celebrating. Plant owners keep running into the same problem: they’re not finding the skilled labor they need from the American workforce.

CNN Money reports an influx of customer orders for domestic manufacturers, but the lack of skilled workers is a growing problem. Specifically, positions like manual machinists, quality control inspectors, and computer control technicians are in serious demand. When managers grasp at straws and sputter in hiring qualified workers, factory training becomes the only back up. The shortage of fundamental skill-sets—as one plant owner puts it, “young Americans just don’t consider manufacturing to be a sexy vocation”—is driving up the need for industrial workforce training.

Retirement cycles are pushing Baby Boomers out, but there aren’t trained factory workers waiting to take their place anymore. Manufacturers cannot stay competitive without preserving the knowledge of their existing workers. Transferring knowledge and skills can be difficult during the hiring transition, and industrial workforce training protects collected knowledge and passes it on.

Retirement isn’t the only reason factories are scrambling. Over the last several decades, the U.S. has outsourced many of its manufacturing jobs. The lake of available, talented workers became more of a puddle. But recovery is slow; current machinists, for instance, continue to log significant overtime. Some report an income bump of up to $40,000 as a result. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says annual earnings for factory workers averaged around $73,000 in 2009, and the number keeps rising with demand.

Warehouse training could help put an end to the outsourcing of American jobs. After all, outsourcing has only led to fewer American-made goods, scarcer jobs, and less economic zeal. But despite the masses of unemployed adults, factories need to be somewhat selective about who they hire. The technical component of much manufacturing work prevents just anyone from learning the trade. Like any skill, it helps to have an aptitude for it. But manufacturing plant training can turn relevant talent or knowledge into skills suited for factories.

Factories are only getting more sophisticated because they must compete globally. Currently, America is sitting in a favorable position for exports and global manufacturing. Economist Mark Perry says the U.S. is responsible for one-fifth of the world’s manufacturing output, and China’s “low-wage advantage” is shrinking as foreign wages increase. Plus, growing export markets are making more room for American products, and American firms are seeing more opportunity as the production of goods in developing countries becomes less profitable—like China.

But taking advantage of this upswing in American manufacturing hinges on finding skilled labor to keep up with production. If your talent pool has dried up, consider quenching unemployment by arming new workers with industrial workforce training.

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