I hear it every day and from almost every client I visit – “I can’t find good talent.”
I’ve got three responses to this complaint:
•first, its our fault;
•second, “baby boomers” strike again;
•and finally, there are sources for these skills.
Let’s start with “It’s our fault.”
Most of the young people I speak with have no idea that there are highly technical, good paying, career opportunities in machining and manufacturing.
Almost all of the parents of those kids tell me that they don’t want their kids to go into machining, to which I ask, “Why not?” and I get a I get a variety of answers ranging from, “it’s dirty and hard work” to “there are no jobs in manufacturing, they are all going overseas” to “I don’t know anything about machining. What kind of jobs are there?” to my personal favorite, “I don’t want my kid doing what I had to do – I want him to go to college!”
So you see it is our fault. As parents, we are misinformed, uninformed or have a severe bias and misunderstanding of the potential in the industry.
•When I hear, “It’s dirty and hard work,” that tells me that this person has not been in a factory for over twenty years or more. Machining and manufacturing are no longer the dimly lit, dirt floor, Draconian hell hole of the past. In fact, machining has more computer content then almost any other industry, has more of a lab environment than a factory and the jobs are well-paying, career positions (as opposed to just a job).
•The “…no jobs in manufacturing…” response fires me up! Where as it is true that there has been a contraction in the manufacturing industry for quite some time, it does not automatically equate to a lack of opportunities. Almost every shop leader I meet complains that they cannot find good candidates. The current workforce in machining and manufacturing is AGING. The demographics of the next generation provide a smaller pool of workers. This equates to more openings even though the industry has contracted.
•These are well-paying jobs. The average annual salary and benefits for a machinist in the U.S. is over $61,000 and as I have personally proved, once in manufacturing the potential is tremendous. Quality Control Engineer is number 37 on Money Magazine’s top 100 best jobs; manufacturing engineer is number 38 – just two of the many opportunities that open up from a solid machining and manufacturing background. Manufacturing provides solid, well paying, technical, computer-based career positions. The kind you can raise a family on and do very well with.
•Lastly, but certainly not least, is the “I want my kid to go to college” excuse. That’s a fine dream, but does your kid want to go to college? Do his/her interests and future aspirations depend on a college education? The current statistics are sobering. Over two-thirds of college students don’t finish a four-year degree in four years and if you extend it to six years, the percentage improves only moderately – to 58%! Would it not be better for these students to attain some work experience – i.e. seasoning as an individual – that provides marketable skills and financial security from which can blossom into a wide array of opportunities in the future? “No! My kid’s going to college!” For what, to fail?
So you see, it is our fault and I have a challenge to all parents – learn, educate yourself and your children in the career opportunities that exist in today’s manufacturing.