It is easy for big city editors and academics to broadly dismiss the real issues that employers face as we try to find and hire skilled workers. There are systemic disincentives and cultural issues that are discouraging people from getting the skills that could lead to a great career in precision machining and advanced manufacturing.
PMPA President and Member Darlene Miller, President and CEO of Permac Industries in Burnsville, MN was mentioned in INC Magazine’s Latest Article on the Skills Gap.
The article shares the success of Darlene Miller’s efforts to jump start the creation of a training program for machinists in her area.
“Darlene Miller, CEO and owner of Permac Industries in Burnsville and a former member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, contacted the Manufacturing Institute to develop a fast-track program, Right Skills Now. Area companies worked closely with two community colleges to create a 24-week intensive course, including internship, that launched in October 2012.
So far, businesses are happy with the result; graduates “are scarfed up as soon as they finish,” Miller says. The program has spread to eight states; four groups of 18 to 20 people have finished in Minnesota, with a placement rate approaching 95 percent.”
But the INC Article glosses over some very critical issues in an attempt to poo-poo the fact that “there are issues finding people for specific jobs in specific industries;” and states that in the workforce as a whole there is no skills gap.
Issue: Schools are not preparing students for careers in advanced manufacturing. Check..
- Weak math skills in applicants,
- Inability to use ruler, let alone micrometers or more sophisticated gaging,
- Lack of shop classes in most school districts.
These are facts that we face with most applicants right out of school.
Issue: Unmotivated workforce. Check.
- Workforce participation rate has never been lower since they started keeping track of it.
- Why work when you can collect benefits?
- Our shop owners report that many applicants are just going through the motions since they still have many weeks of extended federal benefits.
- Also many applicants can’t pass a drug test. One PMPA member told me that they lost 2/3 of their new hires within a year for either drugs or failure to show up to work as scheduled.
This is reality. Generous unemployment benefits and their extension provide a disincentive to people to work.
Issue: Employers aren’t training. Hogwash.
- Our shops provide many forms of training to our new hires as well as our established employees.
- Many provide training in house through ToolingU.
- Many have arrangements with local schools to provide coursework on premises.
- Many have tuition Reimbursement Programs.
- Also, PMPA provides CEU recognition to member company employees who attend association provided training events.
It is easy for big city editors and academics to broadly dismiss the real issues that employers face as we try to find and hire skilled workers.Skilled workers to add value in our advanced manufacturing precision machining shops. But the facts that our shop owners face daily establish that there is a skills gap in our industry. Despite the best efforts of our company managements, trade association, and community colleges to make a difference, there are systemic disincentives and cultural issues that are discouraging people from getting the skills that could lead to a great career in precision machining and advanced manufacturing.
What are you doing to address the skills gap? How do you see the skills gap in your efforts to add talent?
Photo credits INC Magazine
I agree completely with the conclusions that you have reached in this article. We do indeed have a ‘cultural and systemic’ aversion to training people for a job in manufacturing. I am the beneficiary of a four year degree in mechanical engineering but the best training that I have ever received was on the shop floor, learning from men who know how to actually produce tangible, functional products that serve a real use. This being in contrast to sitting in front of a computer, designing a product that can disappear with the first power failure!
Agree about learning by doing Michael. but it would be nice if they could read a ruler or work with decimals before we got them.
Not sure where these people are coming from – that can’t read a ruler or work with decimals. I’m pretty sure that this is required of all 8th graders. Perhaps this is a relatively new educational requirment (ability) or just at the very fine public school system that my kids go to. I hear lots of people complaining about the state of math in our schools “today” (as if they are comparing to the past…). Well then they need to meet my 10th grade daughter that is taking Pre-Calculus. I’m a college-degreed engineer, and I can’t easily help her with her homework. So, long-of-the-short is, I don’t think we can pin this (ruler and decimal thing) on the schools or the strict educational requirements that they are currently held to. I guess we might find the smoking gun elsewhere? I dunno…Maybe they forgot how?
Thanks for the post on this very important topic.
Hi Kevin, My wife works in retail in Medina Ohio. Our schools win all the highest awards. She recently had a high school senior that could not make change of 36 cents without using dimes. Could not get to 36 cents using a quarter, dime and penny 3 dimes a nickel and a penny. I congratulate you and most parents for the scholarship of their students, but the fact is that we are seeing folks who aren’t able to perform at your 8th standard. Thanks for the thoughtful comments.