How long have we been talking about a welder shortage? If you type "welder shortage" with the quotation marks in thefabricator.com's search box, you will retrieve a list of 367 articles; without the quotation marks, the list grows to 619.
The very first article in both searches, "Feeling the effects of a welder shortage: The search is on to find skilled workers," was written 11 years ago. The author described the need to replace aging, skilled welders as "acute," and quoted then president of the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology, Dave Manning: "The need for skilled workers will become more of a problem in the next three to five years, as 50 percent of the welders in North America retire."
I can't say if Manning's prediction that 50 percent of the welders in North America have retired has come true, but I rather doubt it. Feedback we've received over the years to e-newsletter questions asking readers about their retirement plans indicates that many welders have put retirement on hold for various reasons. Even so, the welder shortage is acute. (more...)