Skilled worker shortage cited again as biggest manufacturing issue

FABTECH poll finds manufacturing execs rate worker shortage as bigger issue than oil prices, economy
By Plant Engineering Staff August 25, 2008

More leading manufacturing executives today believe the lack of skilled labor and management skills in the work force

In a new poll conducted by sponsors of the FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show including METALFORM, 27% of the executives cited the lack of employee skills as the leading obstacle to growth. Ranked second was oil prices (cited by 20%), followed by tax policies (11%), weak U.S. dollar (10%), the financial commitment in Iraq (9%) and the credit crisis (7%).

“In many respects, this finding is not surprising as we have heard for many months from leaders in the metal forming, fabricating and welding industries that their biggest challenge today is finding skilled workers, especially young people, who can tackle the increasingly sophisticated tasks required in manufacturing today,” said John Catalano, show manager at Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), one of the event’s sponsors.

Also sponsored by the American Welding Society (AWS) and Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Int’l (FMA) and supported by industry partner the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show including METALFORM takes place in Las Vegas October 6-8. It is the largest event in North America dedicated to showcasing a full spectrum of metal forming, fabricating, stamping, tube and pipe, and welding equipment and technology.

The executives also were asked to name the two best ways to attract greater numbers of young people to manufacturing careers. In this case, the resounding response was not a surprise %%MDASSML%% 58% said competitive wages. More parental and teacher encouragement ranked second at 27%, followed by offering more relevant science and math programs in high school and college (23%) and greater use of computer and high tech skills (22%).

“Those last three findings underscore the need for our educational system to step up and emphasize curriculum that can better prepare students for positions available today in manufacturing,” added Catalano.

Product innovation and production efficiencies are priorities for manufacturers, too, according to the executives polled.ion, each named by 15% of the respondents.