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The Skilled Worker Shortage That Exists Among High Unemployment

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posted on May, 15 2011 @ 01:13 PM
A strange thing is happening around the developed world. Among staggering unemployment there seems to be a shortage of skilled workers. These are the traditional "blue collar" trades - wielders, carpenters, plumbers, machinists, etc..

Recently Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" fame testified before Congress on this topic.

Mike Rowe's Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

Right now, American manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 vacant positions. There are 450,000 openings in trades, transportation and utilities. The skills gap is real, and it's getting wider. In Alabama, a third of all skilled tradesmen are over 55. They're retiring fast, and no one is there to replace them. Alabama's not alone. A few months ago in Atlanta I ran into Tom Vilsack, our Secretary of Agriculture. Tom told me about a governor who was unable to move forward on the construction of a power plant. The reason was telling. It wasn't a lack of funds. It wasn't a lack of support. It was a lack of qualified welders. In general, we're surprised that high unemployment can exist at the same time as a skilled labor shortage. We shouldn't be. We've pretty much guaranteed it.

He also emphasizes that the government talks about having many "shovel ready" jobs - but we have created a society that largely thinks handling a shovel is beneath them. So, even if "shove ready" jobs exist, we have a shortage of people that know how to use a shovel.

Last year CBS pointed out that a Skilled Labor Shortage Frustrates Employers

The shortage continues today. Its true that many lower skilled manufacturing jobs have been done away with or sent overseas. However, a gap remains for skilled labor..

America's Skilled Worker Shortage

One reason for this shortage is that manufacturers continue to get rid of low-skill workers and replace them with automation. According to the article, “Now they are looking to hire people who can operate sophisticated computerized machinery, follow complex blueprints, and demonstrate higher proficiency than previously required of the typical assembly line workers.”
NAM’s 2005 Skills Gap Report cited that, “The most critical shortages of employees identified were in production, engineering, and skilled crafts.” The skills survey also said, “Manufacturers came to see that their employees would need more sophisticated skills than those needed in the past and that workers did not necessarily have the skills needed for manufacturing’s current and future challenges.” The report also encouraged manufacturers to view employees as investments rather then expenditures and urged them to invest at least 3 percent of payroll in training.

Of course, things haven't gotten any better in the area since 05 and the article does point out a very important issue. Its not just schools doing away with vocational programs and society placing less value on blue collar work that has caused the problem. Employers have also contributed a great deal to by viewing employees as expenses to be cut rather than investments in the company's future that need training.

As the need for training both at vocational school level and on-the-job training by employers has risen the actual amount of training provided has been steadily decreasing.

Mike Rowe is right. If society and companies want to know who is to blame for the shortage of skilled workers they only have to look in the mirror.

The US isn't alone in this skilled labor shortage. Other countries are hit by it as well for similar reasons. They are looking at various solutions. For example...

Australia Looks to India to Solve Skilled Worker Shortage

Officials in Australia and India are considering a plan to train tens of thousands of Indian students to work in Australia's booming natural resources industries. The idea being discussed among Australian and Indian officials, academics and business leaders is to establish Australian schools in India to train students for jobs in Australia's natural resources industry.

Qualified graduates would be allowed to go directly into jobs in the mining industry in Western Australia and Queensland. In Canberra, the federal government is predicting a shortfall of more than 35,000 skilled workers in the resources sector by 2015.

It can be a dirty job - but somebody has to do it.

edit on 15-5-2011 by Frogs because: typo

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 01:26 PM
I hope so. I just graduated my two year welding technologies program friday night. Now I am off to the job search. I hope the economy can hold on long enough so I can get a piece of it.

Liejunkie is tired of being broke. I am not too proud to do just about anything. My brother works for an agricultural company that spreads fertilizer. It is human waste that he spreads. He even cleans the tanks. He makes real good money though. One week with his bonus included he averaged $65 an hour.

It is all of you that are too good to get a real job. I live it everyday.( not intended to single you out) I am just curious as to why everybody wants a cubicle position? Suit and tie...

Of course S&F, I am a welder.

edit on 15-5-2011 by liejunkie01 because: (no reason given)

edit on 15-5-2011 by liejunkie01 because: spelling

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 01:41 PM

Originally posted by liejunkie01

It is all of you that are too good to get a real job. I live it everyday.( not intended to single you out) I am just curious as to why everybody wants a cubicle position? Suit and tie...

Of course S&F, I am a welder.

edit on 15-5-2011 by liejunkie01 because: (no reason given)

edit on 15-5-2011 by liejunkie01 because: spelling

I have done BOTH positions for several years so I'll answer. The cubicle-suit-and-tie job is WAY cleaner, WAY quieter, WAY less physically demanding, WAY less aggravating, and MUCH MORE easier to do personal things and blab on the phone, browse the net, check emails, and useless stuff like facebook/Myspace and other things.

Skilled trade shop work is noisy, dirty, sweaty, aggravating, and much more mentally and physically demanding than sitting on your TAIL all day in a COMFORTABLE chair whereas the skilled trade monkey's are on their feet in steel-toe boots all day around complex and dangerous machinery.

My cubicle job's pay STARTED at $40,000 annually including EXCELLENT benefits and other awesome perks.

My SKILLED trade job with CRAPPY benefits and NO perks started at $8 an hour.


Thats why folks dont want the skilled trade profession.

I'll take the COZY, COMFY, QUIET and CLEAN cubicle job with the HIGHER PAY please..

Its a NO-BRAINER really.
edit on 15-5-2011 by pplrnuts because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 01:51 PM
I know for a fact that this is bull hockey! Here in Alabama, the is no shortage of any kind of workers. I have worked as a carpenter most of my life and what caused me to get out of that field was the fact that employers hire Illegals and not only pay them under the table, but not even pay any taxes to anyone! I seen this coming way back in 1996 when I and a whole crew of construction workers both skilled and unskilled lost our jobs so the contractor could and did hire a whole slew of Illegals! That was a $16.00 an hour job and I could not find any other carpenter job after that because Every contractor around was hiring Illegals! That took food out of my family's mouth. I went back to installing satellite systems for the next seven years and dang if those employers turned around and did the same thing! Jobs Americans won't do my butt! Employers in America are not telling you the truth, they want a real cheap labor force so they can make more in profits and not have to pay taxes, heath insurance and so on!! Don't believe everything you read or see!

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 02:05 PM
When you crush unions you crush skilled jobs down to 15,oo per hour, Unions wont let documented workers work for nothing. Dont you just hate unions.
edit on 15-5-2011 by spyder550 because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 02:08 PM
The answer to the skills shortage must fairly and squarely put in the governments and managements hands. It was their total short-sightedness in going for the quick fix of trying to produce skilled workers by teaching short courses in only part of a skill instead of investing in proper long term apprentiships. They wrongly assumed they could get by with the majority of the workforce semi-skilled with just a couple of fully skilled workers to cover for the short-comings of the semi-skilled. This works in a fashion till the fully skilled people retire(like now) and they are left with a workforce not up to the task. This will show up in all industries and professions because the last 20 to 30 years all the western governments have not invested in the long term teaching in the workers. Please note I said the western governments. India and China have always invested in their workers hence having to import skilled workers from these countries.

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 02:25 PM

Originally posted by spyder550
When you crush unions you crush skilled jobs down to 15,oo per hour, Unions wont let documented workers work for nothing. I bet you hate unions.

Yea unions are a good thing in the skilled trade profession for sure. I know some top-level trades people who used to make $30 an hour in the union and are NOW working 4 times HARDER in a NON-union shop making $10-$12 per hour LESS in pay than before.

And honestly, the level of talent from these guys should have them earning $40+++ dollars per hour. At least the union got them close to what they are really worth. While in the non-union shops the big-shots in suits get new yachts every year off of the exploitation of these poor fellas. Its a shame really.

Suit-and-tie job for the WIN!!!

edit on 15-5-2011 by pplrnuts because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 02:42 PM
I have terrible trouble recruiting hairdressers and beauty therapists for my salons since the government decided to part train using NVQ's rather than the well respected and comprehensive city and guilds system.

We now have "qualified" hairdressers who can't cut men's hair (50% of the population), and therapists who can't do the normal treatments offered by a salon unless we send them on further courses.

My trainees spend most of their college day learning equality rules and health 'n' safety. Not much actual hairdressing. They also have to /do remedial maths and English in the time they should be spending learning their trade.

Proper trade qualifications in the UK are now a joke. Designed to be "inclusive" for youngsters with learning difficulties, they now serve nobody. Young qualified hairdressers who cannot actually do hair. Pointless.

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 03:02 PM
The biggest problem is that machines are taking more and more of the skilled jobs.

I watched CNC machines move in and be able to make parts that were almost impossible for a skilled worker to make.

Watch the series - How its Made; make note of how many people are actually making stuff and how many are just moving stuff from machine to machine. Most assembly work can be automated -- most machining can be automated. painting, welding, materials transfer, even the design can be automated.

Statistically in any population the largest number of people will have an IQ on either side of 100, not saying that IQ is the end all and be all of measurement - but it is somewhat indicative. Generally people with an IQ of 100 are fully able to be regular machinists they will be productive and do an honest days work. They may not be able to create new approaches to their jobs but that is not what they are required to do ( a very creative machinist is a wonder to work with -- they can step up to a mill and a lathe and make the most wonderous gadgets)

Unfortunately computers can replace these workers. What do we do what do we retrain them to do.

I am getting to the age when I have half of my life is in the digital age and half was in the analog. In the analog age there was a lot more respect for the people who did stuff, work was respected - the guy who fixed the car was as important as the doctor. Draftsmen were considered artists. Architects were artists. Engineers built incredible stuff and put people on the moon.

In the digital age using ones hands and ingenuity is not considered the gift that it actually is. I miss the analog age - we have definitely lost respect for the dignity of work.

I have done drafting I have designed automated materials handling systems, I've felt bad about the people I displaced but at that time there was other work, I never thought that we would displace everyone. Now I am a network engineer. I've been lucky. I guess all old people say this but I think life was richer back then.

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 03:08 PM
reply to post by liejunkie01

I applied to a few entry-level warehouse positions in the early Summer of last year. Got like 8 calls in a week. It's not hard to get a job, per se; just hard to find a job that's "on your level", rather than beneath you.

PS I ended up getting the most awesome job ever, even though the pay sucks. I'm looking for another job to supplement my income, since the first job is only part-time.

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 07:41 PM
A lot of businesses should just bite the bullet and do training in-house, instead of sitting on their hands and complaining. This whole problem stems from such unwillingness on their part. What ever happened to apprenticeships?

Many people wouldn't mind going to school for such things either, but if you don't have the money in the first place - why do something so idiotic as taking on a large loan debt when no job is guaranteed from such training? People are exercising common sense here.

The ball is in the employer's court, and if they're unwilling to put it into play - it's their fault. It's not that people don't want to work, and if you want somebody already experienced then you should be willing to pay for it.

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 10:28 PM
I work as an aerospace machinist. I've watched my shop go from manual machining to cnc and most of the seasoned workers can't set up or write any programming for the new machines. So management is relying on younger workers such as myself (32 yrs old) to write and edit programming, set up the machines so another guy who makes $6 more an hour than me can come in, load a part and push start. I can run manual lathes and mills along with setting up and programming cnc. I like what I do, I just don't like making less money when I have more training and skill than somebody who has simply been at the company longer.

I can see why there is a shortage of skilled workers. When a person has to pay for their own training and schooling to take a job that pays the same or less than an office position. I've had to learn CAD/CAM, 3 different programming languages, basic computer skills, and manual machining to make a similar pay rate as someone who has had a couple computer classes or a 2 year degree. I've had more schooling than most college grads and it hasn't paid off. I am contemplating going back to school before my job gets shipped to China.

With everything getting outsourced overseas, what field can one expect to go in and have a small sense of job security?

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 10:54 PM
This whole thing just sounds like another excuse to bring even more foreign workers into the USA. Maybe under the H-1bc program (bc for blue collar).

posted on May, 15 2011 @ 11:33 PM
The whole problem is everyones egotistical mentallity.

posted on May, 16 2011 @ 12:16 AM
reply to post by Frogs

I'll try to forget about what Mike said. Stick to the TV guy. Nobody needs to trust anything you say until you establish yourself as something more than a actor who does TV shows and Ford commercials.

I take the word of the guys here who have opinions based on actual experience.

posted on May, 16 2011 @ 03:29 AM
reply to post by Frogs

That's because many trades across the country moved away from "apprenticeships" and to "degrees". So if I want to be, say, an HVAC tech, I need to go to a college, or a place like ITT, and get certified .. so i will accumulate 50-70k in debt to get a "degree" in HVAC to make $18/hr.

Some places, mostly union shops, still allow apprenticeships .. so instead of a pointless and worthless degree, you apprentice for 3-6 years learning on site and getting paid to do it.

That's the way things USED to be done. But now with McColleges all over the country selling degrees (yes, selling) for every menial job, trade job, and semi professional jobs .. the quality of applicant is incredibly low. And those that do come from those McColleges have such subpar education and experience, they are a hazard to place on the job without direct supervision.. it becomes redundant and expensive for the hiring company.
edit on 5/16/2011 by Rockpuck because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 16 2011 @ 03:45 AM
reply to post by Frogs

maybe there is a shortage of skilled workers for those jobs, or maybe they expect to much these days. people use to learn on the job more so in the past than today. maybe they just expect people to have to many qualifications and toss them aside as incapable if they do not have them. expecting the unemployed to already have these skills saves on training costs though at the expense of others. i mean why train somebody, it does not make good business sense when you could just employ somebody who haves the skills already.

posted on May, 16 2011 @ 03:59 AM
reply to post by pplrnuts

which makes why we have a shortage of these skilled workers is also a no brainer......
was always told a monkey could do these jobs ....
well, go find yourselves some talented monkeys I guess....or well, go without....

posted on May, 16 2011 @ 04:02 AM
Most of it is a scam, many skilled and capable people, are locked out of jobs which they could quiet adequately for fill, due to the now heavy education requirements set up by many of our money making institutions.

For example, in the states I could do a straight forward test for a nominal fee and become certified as a welder, providing I could weld, here in Australia, you have to hoop jump at some money making college for at least six months before you could become certified, totally absurd.

These days its all about money making and not the skills, nearly every course here throws in a unit of health and safety the funny thing is that they all regurgitate the same rubbish. I find it totally amusing that most of the real world was built by people who could do the work. And these days they are so heavily certified and things still go wrong, where is the reality

Many of the trades are a lock out situation, I have friends who can design power stations but are not allowed to wire up a power point, where is the logic in this, and from what I have seen by several qualified electricians, I figure they got their licenses out of cornflake packets, as some barely have the skills to install a GPO, it is a shame and its jobs for the boys clearly a lock out situation.

posted on May, 16 2011 @ 04:22 AM
i am a veteran that worked off and on as a industrial construction electrician for many years.

i can no longer work as a industrial construction electrician or as a electrician in calif due to a licencing law the state put into effect a few years ago.

Due to the way they set up the law i have to prove i have 8,000 hours of on the job training as a electrician.
none of my old employer are still in business for me to get a notarized proof of employment statement.

I was trained and worked as a electrician in the US Navy but that time does not count and can't be used as on the job training.(8000 hours+)

Since they would no longer allow me to work my trade i filed for disablity and now don't work.
the taxpayers now pay me.

I do a few electrical jobs for friends under the table as i only charge $15 a hour.
If you hire a state licensed electrician you will have to pay about $55+ a hour due to the shortage of licensed electricians.

There is one loophole i have found.
If something plugs into a outlet i can legally work on it as a repairmen without breaking the law.

You would be surprised how many shop owner are putting plugs on all there equipment so that they can hire cheaper repairmen.

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