The October “Welding Wire” e-newsletter asked readers to share their observations about today’s workforce, specifically, younger workers. You can always count on “Welder Wire” workers to respond and to do so with candor and conviction. Based on their responses, there are some issues with some young workers, but also reason for hope that things are not as dire as they may seem. Isn’t that the way it’s been for most generations? Here’s what some had to say: (more...)
Posts Tagged ‘skilled worker shortage’
By: Vicki Bell
Joe, Joe, Joe. It’s now been three weeks since I e-mailed you in response to the comment you left for a blog post about how welders began their welding careers. You wrote about your desire to begin yours and how no one would give you a chance. I wanted to find out and report on your experiences looking for work, in hopes that someone out there might have some suggestions for you, or even a possible job opening.
Well, someone who read Barely 18, Part I—which was about you—commented on that post, and while this reader’s remarks were no reflection on you, they did reflect poorly on some young people in the job market. (more...)
By: Dan Davis
The local welding supply house is an important resource for any metal fabricator, but it isn’t normally the first call made when a fab shop has a production problem. A major independent supplier of gases and equipment is hoping to change that, however.
With headquarters in Memphis, Tenn., and several locations scattered over eight states in the South, nexAir has taken a major step toward positioning itself as a knowledge resource, not just as a storefront where a welder can pick up some welding wire and place an order for a cylinder of argon. It opened a 4,500-square-foot demonstration lab at its downtown facility as part of a major renovation, which includes the addition of two classroom areas, new office space, and a retail store. The demo room makes it unique among privately owned distributors that serve the manufacturing industry.
“We want to be viewed as experts for the people involved in cutting and joining metal,” said nexAir President Bill Proctor, who has been with the company since 1988, when it was known as Standard Welders and before it merged with nearby competitor Mid-South Oxygen to create nexAir in 1996. (more...)
By: Dan Davis
My son’s high school had its annual Parent Night on Wednesday. Parents actually get to experience the student’s schedule, albeit in a much abbreviated time frame. (Classes lasted only eight minutes.) It’s a great way to meet the teachers and get the real scoop on what may be happening in the classroom—much more than the “not much” you get when you ask the 15-year-old what happened at school that day.
This year my wife and I coaxed our sophomore son to take Introduction to Engineering, despite his defense that he has no plans to become an engineer. Truthfully, does any teenager know what he or she wants to do as an adult? There was not a huge demand for magicians in the job market 30 years ago, but my parents really didn’t do much to dissuade me from that possible career path. (Poor hand-eye coordination and a lack of practice probably doomed that career choice.)
But we were able to sell him on the idea that he needs to be exposed to all kinds of possibilities, including engineering. On the other hand, we were sold on the earning potential of those that follow up on engineering degrees. According to the 2013-2014 Payscale College Salary Report, engineering careers dominate the top 10 career paths with the highest starting median pay. It would be nice to have a career that allowed the student to pay back loans, instead of falling behind on them. (more...)
By: Dan Davis
After multiple e-mails from readers over the past couple of months claiming that our constant referencing to the skilled-worker shortage is a disservice, I figured it’s best to come clean. They are right. It’s not a skilled-worker shortage; it’s a skilled-worker-that-will-work-for-lower-than-expected-pay shortage.
Well, that hardly rolls off the tongue.
Readers may react like The FABRICATOR is trying to keep this whole trend a secret, but that’s hardly the case. This trend of depressed wages for workers in the U.S. is no secret. Wage growth has yet to achieve 2008 levels, and if you want to get really depressed, consider that on an inflation-adjusted basis, wages peaked in 1973.
What about welding specifically? The FABRICATOR asked its readers this question in a May survey: “How much does your company pay entry-level welders per hour?” The responses from the 181 readers were enlightening:
- Less than $10—4%
That doesn’t look horrible considering it’s starting pay. Like any other job, you have to start at the bottom.
By: Dan Davis
'Tis the time of year when people might be secretly paying more attention to NCAA basketball tournament games than work and, in some cases, actually leaving work early to watch the afternoon first-round games. Even though March Madness might sap worker productivity, it still might hold meaning for fabricating management.
How could that be? Well, recent research suggests that sports teams with players who can play more than one position can field a better lineup on a more regular basis than teams without those types of players. Those teams also show more resiliency when it comes to player injuries.
More specifically, "The value of flexibility in baseball roster construction," a report prepared by Timothy Chan of the University of Toronto and Douglas Fearing of the Harvard Business School, examined statistics from the 2012 Major League Baseball season and found that players with the ability to play multiple positions were responsible for up to 15 percent of the teams' runs. The researchers then compared this flexibility to that of automotive supply chains that can adapt quickly to changes in supply and demand, helping production remain as efficient as possible. Both baseball teams and automotive manufacturers want to stay at their top performance level even in the face of obstacles—which might be a major injury for a baseball team or a material shortage for a supply chain.
If metal fabricators haven't realized the importance of that type of flexibility on their own shop floors, they likely haven't seen profits rise with the uptick in the metal manufacturing sector. They probably have a problem getting products through the shop, which prevents them from getting paid as soon as possible. (more...)
By: Dan Davis
It used to be just labor cost, but apparently Mexico has another secret weapon in trying to expand its role as the world's manufacturing partner: It can churn out engineering and manufacturing talent for the large multinational manufacturers looking to locate in North America.
Don't believe it? Look what's happening elsewhere in the world. (more...)
By: Dan Davis
"They've tried for two years to find my replacement, but they didn't find one yet," said 67-year-old Gil Smith, a second-shift welding technician for Rose City Manufacturing, Springfield, Ohio.
He shared that fact with me after saying that he had read the December edition of the Fabricating Update e-newsletter where I mentioned that metal fabricators need to keep older workers around because companies simply aren't prepared to have all of that valuable knowledge walk out the door permanently to enjoy retirement. It's not that workers can't be found and trained to operate the machines and systems; it's the fact that those workers won't know what to do if faced with unforeseen circumstances that prevent them from operating the same machine and systems they were trained to operate. They simply don't have the experience. (more...)
By: Tim Heston
Andrew Hacker certainly can spark a debate. If you get the New York Times, you would have turned to the first page of the opinion section and seen: Is algebra necessary? Hacker is an emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York. In his column, he questions whether a traditional approach to algebra is necessary in our schools, at least for those who don’t want to pursue a technical career. He argues that basic math skills are, of course, vital. And although the ideas behind algebra, trigonometry, and calculus may be important, are the specific equations really necessary for most of us?