...Yet in manufacturing alone, a half-million jobs are going unfilled because firms have been unable to find qualified workers. The feds can't address our nation's shortage of skilled labor on their own. Private firms — especially those in manufacturing — must also invest in training. Indeed, without workers fluent in the high technology that runs today's factories, manufacturers will not be able to survive.
Modern manufacturing is more than pulling levers and navigating forklifts throughout a plant. Consider the work flow of, say, an engineer at a facility making chairs.
In response to a new order, he'll first use advanced math to calculate the amount of steel that needs to be fed into the presser. He'll have to choose the right combination of half a dozen sheet types, each with a different weight, length and thickness. Then he'll operate, monitor and perhaps fix the quarter-million-dollar machine that assembles the chairs. Even a minor mistake can yield major damage — and massive repair expenses....
...But as manufacturing has become more technologically sophisticated, the training needed to master a trade has grown too expensive and time-consuming for private industry to provide. Manufacturers already operate on thin profit margins. They can't afford to develop every worker from scratch.
Fortunately, they don't need to. Throughout the country, many manufacturers, technical schools, and local and state governments have teamed up to help narrow the skills gap. Throughout Illinois, employers are teaming up with municipalities to expand vocational training...
There is a common perception that American manufacturing is in decline. Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead, a shortage of qualified workers is holding American manufacturing back. Our nation's leaders must invest in closing that skills gap. If they do, an American industrial renaissance will follow.
Dick Resch is CEO of KI Furniture.I think there might be some contradictions there. Also, I'm amused to see this tidbit from the Wall Street Journal:
The government hasn't tracked spending on corporate training since the mid-1990s, but one rough measure, the percentage of staffers at U.S. manufacturers dedicated to training and development, has fallen by about half from 2006 to 2013, according to research group Bersin by Deloitte.That seems about right to me -- must be those incredibly thin margins.