Factories Scour for Skilled Workers to Sustain Production

Expanding Manufacturing Must Train Workers to Meet Demand

As factory orders rise, the manufacturing industry has jobs to fill and a lack of skilled workers. Despite the potential for high-paying salaries, manufacturing positions don’t have the allure they used to.

Manufacturers are both elated and scared. The economy is stirring, manufacturing is gearing up and yet, owners are getting worried. Orders are coming in and production is increasing, all according to plan—but the workforce isn’t catching up.

Director of the New Jersey Advanced Manufacturing Talent Network, Meredith Aronson, reports that manufacturers “are coming back,” except there aren’t enough qualified workers to keep up the pace. Nostalgia aside, the manufacturing sector has the potential to curb unemployment if—and only if—unemployed workers get the manufacturing training they so desperately need. And boy, do they need it.

Throughout plants across the Southeast, Advanced Technology Services (ATS) hired more than 1,000 workers that required manufacturing plant training to maintain computer-controlled equipment. The South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance is pleased to see a comeback. From 2011 to 2012, South Carolina alone added 9,500 manufacturing jobs, and many of them need technical skills and safety training.

Although ATS staffs factories throughout the U.S., the company sees the highest demand for skilled workers in the Southeast, from Illinois down to Mississippi and Georgia. Georgia’s manufacturing industry saw real growth in 2010, but Republican Gov. Nathan Deal recognizes the necessity to educate the workforce with maintenance and industrial safety training to sustain recovery.

Gov. Deal responded with a marketing partnership promoting careers in manufacturing among Georgia youth called Go Build Georgia. The stigma working against the manufacturing trade tends to make young people and their parents shy away from factory jobs and plant work, but these jobs can be lucrative. Technical colleges with two-year degrees and multi-craft maintenance training can yield $55,000 a year salaries right out of the gate. Of course there are some discrepancies.

High-tech manufacturing positions—aka computers, electronics, pharmaceuticals, aerospace products—pay more than low-tech manufacturing jobs. In fact, a geographic layout of manufacturing salaries done by MSNBC said the rate of pay is determined by the kinds of factories operating in the region.

The top 6 areas that report the highest-paying manufacturing gigs are as follows:

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. (Silicon Valley)

Average manufacturing wage: $144,899

Industry focus: computers and electronics

2. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.

Average manufacturing wage: $95,507

Industry focus: aerospace, machinery, computers and electronics

3. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.

Average manufacturing wage: $91,761

Industry focus: computers, electronics, food and pharmaceuticals

4. Austin-Round Rock, Texas

Average manufacturing wage: $88,026

Industry focus: computers and electronics

5. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, Calif.

Average manufacturing wage: $87,502

Industry focus: computers, electronics and pharmaceuticals

6. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, Mass.-N.H.

Average manufacturing wage: $82,415

Industry focus: computers, electronics, fabricated metals and food

Although this data might be somewhat skewed by a few top-level employees, and the cost of living has an impact, these salaries show the room for growth among high-tech manufacturing. We’ll bet some if not all of these regions have invested in factory education and plant maintenance training.

Advertisements

“Re-shoring” Efforts Yield Job Growth in Manufacturing

U.S. Manufacturing Reclaims Some Outsourced Jobs

The manufacturing sector continues to provide some significant job growth, but will it be enough when the workforce lacks basic industrial training?

The Obama administration is still hopeful that the manufacturing push will yield jobs and more American-made goods. Well, it looks like some of these efforts are paying off. Gradual improvements in the manufacturing industry made some changes appear insignificant, but economists argue the manufacturing sector has been a major and reliable source of growth in the economy since the Great Recession.

Data from the Department of Labor seems to agree.

Plant work and manufacturers created 120,000 jobs in the first three months of the year. Ford Motor is doing their part; the car company added 5,500 jobs this year that were previously outsourced. Ford reacquired the production of certain high-tech components used to assemble hybrid cars—like battery packs and transmissions—from Japan and Mexico. But automakers aren’t the only ones bringing jobs back to the states; mega corporations and small private companies alike are reclaiming jobs.

Chesapeake Bay Candles will now actually be from the Chesapeake Bay-area. GE is continuing its reign of expansion to appliances, aviation and locomotives. Last year alone, GE added 10,000 jobs. The multi-industry giant is projecting at least another 900 factory jobs by 2013. So, maybe the recent jobs report wasn’t a clear indication of the whole economic recovery picture. But if plants and factories are to make the most of new hires—and sustain ramped-up production—they need to invest in manufacturing plant training.

The second part of creating manufacturing jobs is enabling the workforce through education and industrial safety training. Not enough businesses see the value of in-sourcing because a large segment of the unemployed doesn’t have the necessary skill sets. Last year reported a record-breaking number of U.S. exports of nearly $20 billion, part of which is thanks to the construction/mining equipment maker Caterpillar (CAT). Since their heavy-duty construction equipment, especially mining machinery, has global appeal, they increased production efforts in the U.S. and put more money in the national pocket. But, increased production doesn’t mean much if workers don’t have manufacturing training.

According to CNN Money, the American workforce is at its smallest size since the 1980s. Although there has been some significant job growth, many have just stopped “engaging” with the job market—aka “job market dropouts.” It appears some adults have temporarily conceded to unemployment and returned to the drawing board for community college classes and technical skills, like manufacturing plant training. Job skills depreciate the longer someone is out of work and vocational education seems to be the only option left.

To offset the economic imbalance caused by discouraged “dropouts,” various sectors (especially the reliable manufacturing industry) must invest in the unofficially unemployed through industrial safety training, electrical training, operations training and more. Long-term investments yield more jobs, national revenue and exports, and America desperately needs all three.

%d bloggers like this: