U.S. Manufacturing On The Rise, Job Openings Not Filled: One Company’s Solution: By Rachael Serafin | Articles & Tips | WNYJobs.com | Buffalo

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 U.S. Manufacturing On The Rise, Job Openings Not Filled: One Company’s Solution: By Rachael Serafin

By Joe Stein

Contrary to what is commonly heard in the news, manufacturing is on the rise again according to industry leaders. Job openings are increasing rapidly, yet the number of open positions being filled is not increasing. For manufacturers, especially those returning to the U.S. for various reasons, this is a huge problem.

“Companies are growing and jobs are open, but there aren't enough people to fill the positions,” said Greg Chambers, manager of health and safety at Oberg Industries, Inc., in a recent Pittsburgh Business Times article.  How could there be? How could there be increasing job openings, left unfilled, during today's extended tough economic situation?  There are three key reasons for the gap between manufacturing job openings and job fulfillment. First, manufacturing is perceived by many as a dirty and dangerous, labor-intensive work environment.
According to manufacturing industry leaders, their industry still receives bad press, which they decry as complete with outdated image of tall, dirty smoke stacks, missing fingers, no jobs and no future.

Second, there is a shortage of skilled workers. It has become vital to the survival of U.S. manufacturing that companies attract and attain qualified skilled machinists, engineers, technicians, metallurgists and managers to fill open positions. In order to achieve this, employees must have the correct technical educational background to provide a base upon which to build. Manufacturing urgently needs highly educated people from the science, technology, engineering, and mathematical fields (STEM) fields.  In a recent article posted by Ted Bauer, manager of Workforce evelopment programs at MassMEP, he addresses the largest issue at hand; the major skills gap which the U.S. now faces “The glaring lack of basic manufacturing skills education is impacting U.S. manufacturing in a significant way,” Mr. Bauer writes. “One of the fundamental reasons that these needs are not being met is that we do not seem to guide our youth to consider careers in manufacturing. Our schools (teachers and guidance counselors), parents, and society in general do not seem to understand the opportunities that exist in manufacturing today.” This growing skills gap has made it even more difficult for U.S. manufacturers to find and hire qualified applicants. The upcoming generation has lost an appreciation for the value of hands-on work
as a viable and sustainable career. Manufacturing is not even on their radar. This causes many students to focus their academics on service-oriented studies and bypass the mathematical and technical skills that are essential for productive careers in manufacturing.  Students are graduating from college very well-educated, yet lacking skills that are in demand. As a result, they find themselves looking for jobs in markets which are already filled and they are not wellpositioned to fill a technical job. They cannot advance in the manufacturing industry, which is desperate for qualified employees; an industry that points to having created 50,000 news jobs in 2011 alone and that is willing to compensate its employees very well.

The third contributing factor accelerating this qualified employee shortage is what the manufacturing industry dubs “re-shoring” (the returning of manufacturing jobs from foreign shores back to the U.S.), which is occurring at a quick pace.  With the Reshoring Initiative founded by Harry Moser, a long-time supporter of U.S. workforce development and manufacturing, many companies are feeling the push to bring home jobs and provide fellow Americans with the income and job opportunities that had been sent overseas.  Additionally, wages and shipping costs in China have risen sharply in the past few years, while U.S. salaries either fell or stayed the same since the recession. Many companies are finding that these issues, combined with overall quality problems experienced overseas, indicate that out-of-country manufacturing no longer provides the perceived benefits it once did. Consequently, outsourcing fell from 18 percent to nine percent from April 2011 to October, and it continues to drop with giant companies such as GE, Ford, NCR and Catapillar; companies that are all beginning to bring back jobs from Japan, China and Mexico.
U.S.-based manufacturing output continues to steadily increase and the demands on the current workforce is growing rapidly. Even with productivity enhancements, employees cannot keep up with the work, so many companies are trying to bring in more workers. But, because of the skills gap, these
companies cannot find qualified help.

As a result, one local manufacturing company, QMC Technologies, Inc, a Depew, NY-based stainless steel machining company, has taken the initiative to reverse this trend. The company recently launched a new internship program called “Pathways to Manufacturing.” (qmcpath.com). "By partnering with local high schools and colleges, it is my goal to educate young teens and their parents about the excellent and quickly growing job opportunities that await in the manufacturing industry and to reverse the negative preconceived notions of this industry.” says Jim Serafin, CEO of QMC Technologies.  As the United States outsourcing slows, many more products are once again being manufactured in the  U.S. With that, comes the need for skilled, driven and motivated young people who are eager to learn and to get the proper start they need to begin a satisfying career with a meaningful future.  As technology increases, it brings about new innovation and takes machining to a whole new level—a level that provides a safe and clean work environment, with excellent benefits, salary and job satisfaction, Mr. Serafin explains.
“Not only does the manufacturing industry provide its workers with steadily rising income and job security,” notes Mr. Serafin, “Also, it creates a positive effect on the country itself.” Through this program, students are encouraged to come to the company facility, tour the plant, talk one-on-one with QMC's team members, and learn about the benefits of a stable career and the rewards
of, for example, being a machinist. Students delve into a machinists’ environment, receiving a close-up, first-hand view of the machines, the computers and tools used everyday and the challenges of being a machinist.  Mr. Serafin's goal in this manufacturing business/local school partnership is to dissipate manufacturing stereotypes. Students see for themselves that manufacturing is not a dirty environment, nor is it a deadend job without a future. Instead, students see that the opposite is true. Not only is he driven to reach students; he also seeks to educate school influencers—principals, teachers and counselors—about the abundant, rewarding opportunities in the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing is the backbone of the American economy, as is often said. It is true. It is an industry booming with growth, generating income, and influencing the power of the U.S. in world trade. As the current manufacturing workforce begins to age and phase-out of the industry through retirement, it is imperative that the next generation assume the reigns of such an integral and essential industry.