From FabTech/AWS 2007: Leadership Summit

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Many of us read the 2006 Wall Street Journal article, “Where Have All the Welders Gone, As Manufacturing and Repair Boom?” it certainly made the rounds at all the online forums and blogs and got everyone talking.

At the FabTech/AWS show the subject for the Leadership Summit was Addressing the Shortage of Skilled Labor in U.S. Manufacturing. The panel included representatives from the Department of Labor, the Workforce Development Office for the City of Chicago, and Director of Manufacturing for Caterpillar.

They called on everyone in the metal working business to become more active in spreading the word about metalworking and the opportunities it can provide for young people to earn a ”family wage” – that’s important there are a lot of jobs that pay a living wage, but you can’t raise a family on that.

The upshot was that many of these good paying manufacturing jobs are becoming harder and harder to fill because of the lack of skilled labor. The local high schools, trade schools and colleges don’t refer kids to these types of jobs as they did in the past. Many of the apprentice programs go largely unfunded as our current administration places no emphasis on manufacturing.

All the speakers pointed to many agencies where manufacturers can get the skilled labor they need to build a competitive company. They encouraged companies to reach out to their local trade schools and high schools by hosting open houses and other events to make educators, counselors and students aware of the good paying jobs.

At Arc-Zone, we’ve already made one step towards raising awareness in our own community. You may recall we are working with Cal State San Marcos on a couple of projects. I can tell you that not only were the students surprised to learn about the welding industry, so were the professors!

Going forward, we’ll be profiling different skilled labor jobs on this blog in the upcoming months… what will you do?


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