Say “skills gap” to any manufacturer, and invariably they’ll respond with the number 600,000. That’s the gaping hole of unfilled jobs at U.S. manufacturers — for Illinois, estimates point to 30,000 unfilled jobs. The talent shortfall carries serious consequences. In a Manufacturing Institute 2011 skills gap report surveying more than 1,100 U.S. manufacturers, 74 percent of respondents said a lack of skilled production workers was harming productivity or hindering their ability to expand operations.
That skills gap will widen. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers, based in Dearborn, Mich., predicts the number of unfilled manufacturing jobs will reach 3 million by 2015.
To be fair, the rest of the article talks about how wages for machinist have not kept pace with inflation; that may be true. But isn’t taking a job at $13 or $14 an hour better than sitting home watching Judge Judy and playing xbox all day?
These jobs are fun too. In a former life I used to work with a lot of machinist and injection molding operators and tool & die guys, and other people who I think had cool jobs. You get to build things. You get to play with equipment that costs more than your house. At the end of the day you can go home and tell your family that you did something with your day. You didn’t just move paper from one side of the desk to the other (like I do now.)
What we have here is evidence of the complete failing of our educational system. Children not only don’t have the most rudimentary math skills necessary to become a machinist or CNC operator but they don’t have the intellectual curiosity and patience to solve complicated puzzles. That’s what these jobs really are… puzzle solvers. Figure our how to make something better than it’s being made today, faster, cheaper.
We have to turn this around. Show kids that learning is fun and that building (and breaking) stuff can lead to a rewarding job that might not get you a house in Lake Forest but will certainly allow you to put food on the table, gas in the car, and take a decent vacation every year.
We will not survive as a nation if people will stay home rather than work for a living.