U.S. manufacturing sees shortage of skilled factory workers

By: Peter Whoriskey

"...The jobs are already here. What’s missing are the skilled workers needed to fill them. A metal-parts factory here has been searching since the fall for a machinist, an assembly team leader and a die-setter. Another plant is offering referral bonuses for a welder. And a company that makes molds for automakers has been trying for seven months to fill four spots on the second shift.

“Our guys have been working 60 to 70 hours a week, and they’re dead. They’re gone,” said Corey Carolla, vice president of operations at Mach Mold, a 40-man shop in Benton Harbor, Mich. “We need more people. The trouble is finding them.”fi manugacturing 1_1329506101

A recent report by Deloitte for the Manufacturing Institute, based on a survey of manufacturers, found that as many as 600,000 jobs are going unfilled. By comparison, the unemployed in the United States number 12.8 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It used to be that a factory owner would say, ‘I need 20 guys,’ and pull them right off the street,” said P.J. Thompson, president of Trans-Matic, a metal-parts manufacturer. “Now it’s: ‘I need 20 guys with very specialized technical skills.’ There’s a mismatch.”

Driving this shortage is the way that automation is transforming U.S. manufacturing. Much of the demand for skilled workers arises because the automated factories demand workers who can operate, program and maintain the new computerized equipment."

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