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Gerry Clinchy
07-02-2010, 06:51 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/02/business/economy/02manufacturing.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&th&emc=th

This could be real problem putting a damper on recovery, but there may be a silver lining.


During the recession (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/r/recession_and_depression/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier), domestic manufacturers appear to have accelerated the long-term move toward greater automation, laying off more of their lowest-skilled workers and replacing them with cheaper labor abroad.

Now they are looking to hire people who can operate sophisticated computerized machinery, follow complex blueprints and demonstrate higher math proficiency than was previously required of the typical assembly line worker.



Here in this suburb of Cleveland, supervisors at Ben Venue Laboratories, a contract drug maker for pharmaceutical companies, have reviewed 3,600 job applications this year and found only 47 people to hire at $13 to $15 an hour, or about $31,000 a year.

The going rate for entry-level manufacturing workers in the area, according to Cleveland State University, is $10 to $12 an hour, but more skilled workers earn $15 to $20 an hour.

The good news ... U.S. workers have always earned more than many other countries' workers. They can continue to do so if they become the most highly skilled workers. I do believe that can happen. Ever notice how young children can be much more computer-savvy than us oldsters?

Just because young kids have never explored those skills in previous generations does not mean that they weren't able to do so. Thus, it is possible to prepare workers with the skills they need. Also important to note, however, that basic reading and math skills are key to training and also operating manufacturing machinery.

The concept of Vo-Tech schools takes on a new meaning. However, we maybe shouldn't forget to incorporate the skills that typically were part of tech schools. For example ... check out the hourly cost of a plumber or an electrician! Those jobs take some skill. Even basic carpentry skills are in demand for home improvements and repairs. Auto mechanics (also even more highly skilled and involved with computers today).

I agree with the article that some of those stimulus funds ought to be directed to "training" for employers who need workers that are not available in the pool of available workers.


Employers say they are looking for aptitude as much as specific skills. “We are trying to find people with the right mindset and intelligence,” said Mr. Murphy.



Now they are looking to hire people who can operate sophisticated computerized machinery, follow complex blueprints and demonstrate higher math proficiency than was previously required of the typical assembly line worker.

Makers of innovative products like advanced medical devices and wind turbines (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/w/wind_power/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) are among those growing quickly and looking to hire, and they too need higher skills.

Note that the Ben Venue company found only 47 of 3600 applicants qualified for hiring ... about 1.3% Unless that is communicated to the kids who are in school now, so they can prepare to become a "skilled" worker, unemployment will be with us a long time.