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Employment paradox I just finished reading your article (in the June issue) titled 'Employment Paradox' and am concerned that there may be more to this problem than available, skilled, warm bodies. I am employed by a large international company with many manufacturing units across the globe. I have been employed by this company for almost 10 years.
By Staff August 6, 2003

Employment paradox

I just finished reading your article (in the June issue) titled ‘Employment Paradox’ and am concerned that there may be more to this problem than available, skilled, warm bodies. I am employed by a large international company with many manufacturing units across the globe. I have been employed by this company for almost 10 years. I also recently completed my BS in Mechanical Engineering. I am amazed at the difficulty I have had in trying to find a position that could utilize my experience and education. If there is such a crisis, then why isn’t there more interest in people like me who have the necessary skills to hit the ground running? What more could a company want? — Name withheld

I am delighted that someone addressed this problem that each manufacturing company is faced with every day. This is also a delicate subject that one could discuss and argue in many ways, too long to describe here.

But in short I would like to express my opinion for a direction to help to improve this situation. I agree with your closing statement that these actions would further spark interest.

Consider the following:

Many manufacturing companies over the years took the same easy road as the government: slash cost to reduce or even eliminate training (education).

Training and basic education are essential to be competitive in the global market today and more so tomorrow.

It seems to be the general attitude of the common personnel in the workforce today that a machine or a computer will do all the work. Machines and manufacturing processes are very complex and require a well-skilled and versatile workforce to perform.

My proposal is that manufacturing companies must first recognize that investment in training and skill is as much of importance as to invest in good manufacturing equipment and process, as well as to improve manufacturing practices.

Secondly, on a local and state base, manufacturers need to formulate their needs together with the educating body to define future education and skill requirements for the workforce.

More important is that both sides agree to a curriculum that benefits both educators and manufacturers to train in a co-op practice or apprenticeship program the skilled worker for tomorrow.

Cost for training material, educators, and facility must be the burden for industry and state and should be divided on the need required per skill trained.

The common goal for industry and community must be to train the best skilled work force to compete in tomorrow’s market. With a well-skilled workforce and lean manufacturing processes, the U.S. would still be competitive in many sectors.

Instead, we see more and more industry migrate toward the cheap labor countries. This is an easier approach with no investment necessary for many companies than to improve and train to become lean and still be competitive.

It is a sad shopping experience to realize that most of all goods are made outside the U.S. — Martin Voelker