Manufacturers Having Trouble Filling Positions

May 27, 2014

American companies are trying to encourage college students to enter the manufacturing industry, reports Stateline.

The average manufacturing worker in the U.S. earned $77,505 in 2012, yet companies are having trouble filling these positions. For many, manufacturing invokes images of old factories, but today's manufacturing is modernized, and manual mills, lathes and welders have been replaced with computerized equipment, 3-D printers and robotic welders.

Manufacturers are trying to show students that manufacturing jobs require skills, are high-tech and can yield high pay, as skilled trades positions were the most difficult jobs to fill last year. According to one report, up to 600,000 manufacturing positions were vacant in 2011 because employers could not find the skilled workers that they needed to fill them -- whether machinists, technicians or industrial engineers.

Industry leaders in different states are making efforts to attract employees:

  • Wisconsin manufacturers are expecting 700,000 jobs to open up over the next eight years as employees retire, and businesses are trying to figure out how to fill them. Some are turning to apprenticeship programs for both youth and adults, as well as offering job training.
  • Schools, businesses, and local chambers of commerce in Wisconsin are working together to help prepare students and the unemployed for manufacturing jobs, including with federal and state grant money.
  • With a $3 million federal grant, the Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board in Pittsburgh has joined Carnegie Mellon, a series of local community colleges, unions and apprenticeship programs to promote advanced manufacturing.
  • Siemens, an engineering and electronics company, announced a $660 million software donation to technical schools across Massachusetts to train workers in advanced manufacturing.

Many companies have turned to apprenticeship programs, and in April, President Obama gave $100 million in federal grants to companies who create or expand such programs. Rhode Island created its first manufacturing apprenticeship program this month, and Connecticut recently increased its apprenticeship tax credit for manufacturing from $4,800 to $7,500.

Source: Pamela M. Prah, "Selling Manufacturing to a New Generation," Stateline, May 16, 2014.  

 

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