The Dayton Region Manufacturers Association held its annual trade show yesterday at the Dayton Airport Convention Center just a few miles from my house. So, I went down to visit for a couple of hours. The group has morphed from the Dayton Tooling and Machine Association–Dayton is a manufacturing center with many tooling and machine building companies. So, many exhibits are from the “chip cutting” industry, but there was some automation represented as well.
Angelia Erbaugh, association president, told me that member are hiring. The problem is finding the right talent and attitudes–she emphasized the necessity for both.
The first thing is technical skills–whether as a machinist, controls technician or other needed skills. The second requirement is to find employees who have achieved a level of maturity, that is, they are willing to get up and go to work every day. They can pass a drug test. They can work with others.
She is trying to encourage people to go into manufacturing by raising visibility in the local media–basically the Dayton Daily News. And she is having some success in that regard.
Exhibitors told me that there are still some social stigmas around manufacturing. Parents are fixated on college degrees rather than technical degrees. Parents remember the days of manufacturing as a dirty and unsafe environment. But all that has changed. We need to get that message out.
I’m available within my schedule to talk to just about any group that will show the cool side of manufacturing. Maybe we all need to hit the road and become manufacturing evangelists.
There was a story on 60 Minutes about this last Sunday. It featured a company with openings in manufacturing (chip cutting in this case) that they couldn't fill. Not many schools teach CNC and not many apply.
We have a similar problem with PLC programming. Schools don't teach it. Why? We end up hiring and training, this is a burden for automation companies. They don't have this problem in Germany!
I have personally noticed a significant change in the workforce over my 40 plus years in manufacturing.
I agree that the interest level among young people has shifted away from manufacturing in general unless the positions are more high-tech in nature.
This is probably true for two reasons … first we are evolving into a more technical generation with little interest in basic fabrication skills and second, we are shipping more of the basic jobs overseas.
It does not matter how much gas our elected officials exhale about changing all that, I do not see much change on the horizon.
As a nation, we cannot seem to compete on the world stage without cheap labor.
I have witnessed quite a number of occasions where our labor unions remain steadfast in their demands and under pressure of losing contracts with customers who comparison shop, plant closures happen and products are sent to China or Mexico to be fabricated. In fairness, agreements are also struck which allow jobs to stay in the US but the trend is still to outsource jobs.
Another dynamic is also evident. If a person is approaching age 50, industries are no longer interested.
That is age discrimination and it is against the law but the injustice is seldom remedied.
Here is a knowledgeable, capable resource which, in many cases, is discounted not because of the experience and common sense knowledge in their brain but because if the color of their hair.
This is a reality of life nowadays. I know this because of interaction with others as well as my own personal experiences.
So now, perhaps, we should address corporate attitudes as well as the nature and attitudes of the workforce.
Too much to bite off?? Don't expect any real change.
If the initiatives that passed in Washington and Colorado become a reality, it will be increasing difficult to find employees in any field that can pass a drug test. Certainly with the relaxed attitudes toward drugs in Europe, don't look there to find such new talent either. We already tried that and couldn't.