Friday, September 15, 2017

The best skills gap article you will read this week

From Crain's Chicago Business, just a fantastic statistical and anecdotal flaying of the supposed skills gap (emphases mine): 
...But when demand for workers spikes, wages climb, too. Except for a handful of job titles, there isn't much wage inflation in Chicago manufacturing. 
The median manufacturing worker in the Chicago metro area saw wages rise 5 percent from 2012 to 2016 to $33,000 a year, even as wages for all occupations rose 6.9 percent in that period. The average 151,000 U.S. manufacturing workers quitting their jobs each month in 2016, presumably to take higher-paying jobs, was still 27 percent lower than the number quitting before the recession. Taken together, the data suggest that employers aren't so desperate for talent that they're willing to raise wages. 
Yet the companies that have the easiest time attracting candidates are the ones that pay the most, says Anne Edmunds, regional vice president at staffing firm Manpower Group... 
...Employers may not be able to afford to raise wages if they aren't making a high-margin product, or if they need to invest in new machinery, says Jim Nelson, vice president for external affairs at the Illinois Manufacturers' Association. 
Anyway, higher pay won't improve the quality of applicants. Job-seekers need 10th-grade math and reading skills—"Too many people apply for manufacturing jobs who are unable to read a blueprint"—and they need to pass a drug test and show up on time. "Manufacturing is not the consolation prize for an occupation," he says. "It is a high-skilled, rewarding career." 
Except it's a career that in Chicago has a median annual wage of $32,860. That's higher than other occupations that draw from a similar worker pool, like janitorial services or low-skilled health care like home health aides. But unlike in manufacturing, wages in those fields have grown 10 to 15 percent in recent years to roughly $27,000.
It's a good article - read the whole thing.

7 comments:

  1. "Job-seekers need 10th-grade math and reading skills... and they need to pass a drug test and show up on time."

    That is a low bar.

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    1. For what it is worth, I agree with you.

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    2. Maybe that's why the pay is so low, not even considering the horrendous CoL in chiraq area...

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    3. If they get fired for too many no-call-no-shows, they can always go to Burger King and make about the same amount of money. People cared about keeping manufacturing jobs when losing one meant dropping down to fast-food wages. It leads to a vicious circle where nobody sticks around long enough to get to the point where they might be making decent money.

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    4. Come visit Chicago some time.

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  2. Most of the jobs described seem to be machine operators. I suspect that set-up and adjustments of the machines are done by someone other than the (low-wage) operators.

    While manufacturing wages may not have increased as much as wages in other areas requiring the same level of skills and education, there are other factors that make the jobs attractive. Work is conducted indoors, so employees are warm in winter and cool in summer. Work areas are generally clean. Heavy lifting is usually not required.

    With additional training a person could become a tool and die maker and earn higher wages.

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    1. In the UAW shop where I interned back in the mid-90's, operators did everything. Some even made adjustments to the programming when the engineer took too long to get to them...much to his chagrin. I'm skeptical about a lot of what unions claim, but it's undeniable that they can keep people working in one place long enough to master a job.

      About comfort in manufacturing...you aren't accounting for the heat treatment furnaces commonly needed before and after machining. They make a plant stiflingly warm in the winter and a living hell in the summer.

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