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In Other News... Skilled Labor Shortage | American factories are desperate for workers

mr peabody

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Skilled Labor Shortage | How the Pandemic is Accelerating Skilled Jobs Training


Manufacturers in the U.S. are warning of a massive skills gap: There just aren't enough new skilled workers to make up for older ones who are retiring. In this installment of our series, "Roads to Recovery," NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker reports from Connecticut on how the pandemic has accelerated a push to improve and expand job training for the state's large manufacturing workforce.​
 

mr peabody

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American factories are desperate for workers. It's a $1 trillion problem

by Matt Egan | CNN | 4 May 2021

Demand for goods is skyrocketing as the US economy reopens from the pandemic. But there's a big problem: American factories can't find enough people to do the work.

Even though US manufacturing activity surged to a 37-year high in March, the industry has more than half a million job openings. Factories are struggling to find skilled workers for specialized roles such as welders and machinists. Manufacturers are even having trouble hiring entry-level positions that do not require expertise.

The talent shortage is not new — but it's getting worse and could have far-reaching consequences beyond the manufacturing industry itself.

As many as 2.1 million manufacturing jobs will be unfilled through 2030, according to a study published Tuesday by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. The report warns the worker shortage will hurt revenue, production and could ultimately cost the US economy up to $1 trillion by 2030.

"It is deeply concerning that at a time when jobs are in such high demand nationwide, the number of vacant entry-level manufacturing positions continues to grow," Paul Wellener, vice chairman and US industrial products and constructions leader at Deloitte, said in a statement.



'Resounding distress signal'

Manufacturers say it is 36% harder to find talent today than in 2018 — even though the unemployment rate is much higher today, according to the report. More than three-quarters of manufacturing executives (77 percent) surveyed said they expect to have trouble attracting and retaining workers this year and beyond.

"Throughout the executive interviews conducted during this year's study, a resounding distress signal kept repeating itself: 'We can't find the people to do the work,'" the report said.

For example, demand for HVAC systems is very strong in North America as businesses reopen and people upgrade their homes. Yet air conditioning maker Carrier is struggling to find workers to help it meet that demand by building new systems.

"It's a challenging environment to hire in right now. We have to go to great lengths," Carrier CEO David Gitlin told CNN Business last week.

Ultimately, the worker shortage could act as a brake on the industry's growth — and that of the overall economy.



'The robots are not taking over'

Manufacturing executives say part of the problem is that many young Americans just don't want to work in factories, in part because of fears about robots taking over and jobs getting shipped overseas.

"We have a perception problem. People don't know the jobs are here or that these are jobs they want," Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute, told CNN Business. The institute is the nonprofit workforce development partner of the National Association of Manufacturers, a powerful industry trade group.

"People think it's a stationary, low-progression and low-knowledge industry. And that's not the case," Lee said.

The Deloitte report said that despite an influx of 2.7 million industrial robots in use worldwide, humans are still needed to produce the vast amount of goods.

"The robots are not taking over," said Lee. "A robot can pick up a box and move it, but a person can be creative and get ahead of what's coming."

Yet some robotics startups are seeking to capitalize on the shortage of skilled workers.

Path Robotics, a Columbus, Ohio-based startup, says it has designed the world's first truly autonomous robotic welding system. The startup announced a $56 million round of funding Monday to fuel its expansion.

"Path Robotics is solving a complex and critical problem in our country by bridging the gap between the supply of skilled welders and demand," Lee Fixel, founder of Addition, a venture capital firm that led the round of funding, said in a statement.



Competition from Amazon

Even though millions of Americans remain out of work as the pandemic continues, the Deloitte report said "many manufacturers can't fill" entry-level production associate positions that do not require technical knowhow and pay well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Those positions — including assemblers, production work helpers and hand-held tool cutters — only require a "basic level of 'human capabilities' such as following directions, willingness to learn and follow-through," according to the report. In theory, they could be filled by people laid off in the hospitality or restaurant sectors as well as high school graduates.

Part of the struggle is that manufacturers face heavy competition for entry-level talent from warehouse and distribution centers that are feeding the e-commerce boom led by brand names like Amazon and Chewy.

Wellener, the Deloitte executive, said the rise in warehousing jobs is exacerbating the troubles for manufacturers even though those careers may offer fewer long-term opportunities.

"Those jobs plateau. A person in a warehouse will cap out in terms of their ability to grow and develop their skills," he said.



Diversity is critical

But the worker shortage is not only about the Amazon effect.

Manufacturers are also having trouble filling middle-skill jobs that do require some level of technical training or applied skills. Those jobs include computer numerical control machinists, welders and maintenance technicians and often require training, licensing or certification.

At the same time, the Deloitte study found that one in four women are considering leaving the manufacturing industry — a situation that could amplify the industry's diversity issues. Even though women represent almost half of the US workforce, less than a third of manufacturing professionals are women, the report said.

The report makes several recommendations for how manufacturers can do a better job of attracting talent, including launching recruitment efforts at high schools, considering flexible schedules to help work/life balance and linking leadership performance to diversity, equity and inclusion metrics.

To rebuild their talent pipeline, Lee said manufacturers must proactively reach out to more diverse groups.

"Manufacturing has traditionally been older, whiter and more male," said Lee, who comes from a manufacturing family herself. "It's mathematically impossible for us to compete in the future without having a more diverse workforce going forward."

 
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Burnt Offerings

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Ah the great lie of Trades...I'm hard pressed to find an answer in the new economy that flies in the face of streaming in schools. I mean at this point, who gives a fuck about money? I guess in the US its all a bit different where basically you have to be rich in order to go to university, and the whole college and university system is bonkers in the US. Everything from make-your-own-degree programs to be a pro frisbee player to the intellectual elite of Harvard aka American Psycho. Trades? Trades in high school, mind my French, was for retards. Or at the very least low-income families that didn't have a lot of options. But still, we aren't talking the smartest tools in the shed. At least that's what high school taught us (i'm talking 1998, so give me some credit). And still Trades you got have some money. A truck, a trailer, tools, have a penis. I'm sorry but you want to talk about lack of gender equality look no further than construction and the trades. We are talking about guys with beards that drink a lot of beers over the weekend and think having a camp out in the woods is the pinnacle of living it up. It ain't This Old House or some sort of Vermont PBS roadshow. You want to be an Apprentice? You are basically going to be the gofer/pincushion roughneck on the site. The reality of starting out in Trades is a lot different than this La La Land BS.

Also, don't believe the lie. There are hundreds of guys with trucks and tools and all the rest of it. Tons of companies already established to do all this stuff. What new economy? The only new economy is gonna be America fixing its roads as it sinks depression era spending in infrastructure it can't possibly keep up with. And all that money is gonna go in the right pockets to the right people. You want a leg up? Forget it. Its like the picture of the old farts in suits standing around laughing their ass around "oh, they thought it was gonna trickle down..."



Fuck guys, this is history repeating itself. The whole roadshow is a scam. You've all been lied to. Except this time shit is waaay different. We've got variants with some real Contagion-like possibility. And this isn't even a superbug! I mean the Establishment might let you not wear masks and social distance in the future, but you'd be an idiot not to. We are well and truly fucked. And Biden? Is Biden gonna be superman and save the day? I think not! Maybe if you guys are lucky Trump might get back in after Biden fucks up so bad he makes Nixon look like Archie from the Archie comics.

Not to be alarmist, but y'all better start planting sweet potatoes and milking cows real fast, because this is not over by any stretch of the imagination. Manufactured food is gonna get real scarce. But thank god for automation and AI, otherwise we'd might as well be playing with sticks and stones and yammering on like cave men.

Ha! Maybe the US might have a chance if it goes Socialist for its citizens. UBI and the whole ten yards. Because the economy is sunk. If you haven't made money off of bitcoin or whatever crypto-currency or made tons off the WTI crash, you have lost the trading game. Good luck guys! Its good night and good luck! /rant

I think that you may be focused on the negative regarding this topic. I mean, if some people want to get into these careers it's a good thing right? They should have reasonable expectations, should do their homework on it regarding what to expect, etc, but I think you're being a bit pessimistic

Also, I think that having some trade-related courses in high school is a good thing...I took two years of welding in high school and loved that class, just a relaxed, informal learning environment with a lot of freedom for the students regarding what they wanted to work on. They had a program where you could take the class in high school, + an additional class at the local community college and you could become a certified welder. And those people are always in demand in this hick industrial town I live in, if you're good at welding aluminum there will definitely be a need for your services
 

jpgrdnr

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in rain country
I think that you may be focused on the negative regarding this topic. I mean, if some people want to get into these careers it's a good thing right? They should have reasonable expectations, should do their homework on it regarding what to expect, etc, but I think you're being a bit pessimistic

Also, I think that having some trade-related courses in high school is a good thing...I took two years of welding in high school and loved that class, just a relaxed, informal learning environment with a lot of freedom for the students regarding what they wanted to work on. They had a program where you could take the class in high school, + an additional class at the local community college and you could become a certified welder. And those people are always in demand in this hick industrial town I live in, if you're good at welding aluminum there will definitely be a need for your services
Its my snarky reply to the Boomer generation over the failure of the information economy, or the tired response of "Ohhh, your liberal arts education didn't pan out...go into the Trades..." Etc.

I mean if someone in High School was interested in whatever, then pursue it. Be it to make an income or you like making shit out of wood. Or whatever. Working at McDonald's is a good job too if we are being honest.

But not everyone is good at plumbing or can pound a nail or can fool around with live wires. And you can appreciate we live in a class system? The mechanical engineer gets paid more than the roughneck, etc.

But at this point if someone wants to be a poet and not make any money, that's a good career choice too.
 

Burnt Offerings

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Jan 18, 2010
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5,262
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USA
I just think that such career paths can, potentially, provide some people with a comfortable, dignified working class existence that used to be far more common than it is today.

I catch fish for a living. It's probably one of the oldest jobs out there, a fisherman is depicted on the standard of Ur which is over 4000 years old...and you can find some of the most ignorant fools in the industry, like you can find in any industry I suppose...but I can honestly say that I don't envy any person, in regards to how I make a living. What people do who make many, many times more money than I make doesn't interest me in the slightest. I'm 100% comfortable with it (what I do for a living), find a lot of meaning in it (in contrast to just about every other identity I have) and it's one of the areas in my life where I just got really lucky

I don't have much experience in the trades (as they're traditionally understood...electrician, plumber, welder etc.) but I imagine that for some people, they may be able to find the same in such a career path, and that's a good thing. I know that we live in a class society, I consider my own perspective to be left-of-center on a lot of these economic issues but hey, if you're a worker whose able to gain a bit of independence and fulfill a valuable role for the wider society, that's a good thing I think. That's how I choose to look at it anyway
 
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