The title of the article basically says it all, "So Many US Manufacturing Jobs, So Few Skilled Workers."
The idea is that companies have lots of jobs but they don't think the US worker is good enough for them. In particular the article profiles Sieman's Corp the U.S. arm of Siemen's AG a technology giant who claims to have "over 3,000 jobs open all over the country. More than half require science, technology, engineering, and math-related skills. "
"What we have been saying for quite a while is that even though there is a high unemployment rate, it's very difficult to find skilled people," said Jeff Owens, president of ATS, a manufacturing consulting services company.
"A survey by ManpowerGroup found that a record 52 percent of U.S. employers have difficulty filling critical positions within their organizations — up from 14 percent in 2010.
Now if that's accurate that is an earth shattering increase for year over year (YOH). Does that mean that U.S. workers saw their skills decline this much over one year? Or does it point to more companies offering jobs but not getting them filled?
"Most of the jobs hard to fill are for skilled trades, Internet technology, engineers, sales representatives and machine operators."
"Yet American colleges are producing fewer math and science graduates, as students favor social sciences, whose workload is perceived to be manageable, leading to a skills mismatch."
"Math, engineering, technology and computer science students accounted for about 11.1 percent of college graduates in 1980, according to government data. That share dropped to about 8.9 percent in 2009."
"Unemployment in manufacturing is at 8.4 percent, below the overall rate of 9.1 percent. According to the Labor Department's latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey, there were 240,000 open jobs in manufacturing in August up 38.7 percent from a year ago."
"The problem is sufficiently serious that businesses are pushing Congress to address the issue of visas and help them hire more high-skilled foreigners. "
So let me get this right there are lots of jobs in this country but they would prefer to bring in guest workers?! Is there no end to the perversity? It's one thing when they move operations to India; but now even with jobs in the U.S. they are gonna get visas for Indian workers?!
Still, there are some interesting cross currents suggested by this. One thing is that manufacturing does have a lower unemployment rate than the national average.
There are two ways to look at this-a more innocent or more perverse interpretation. Generally these days it seems you get further with the more perverse view.
The perverse view is that employers have such contempt for the unemployed and are so perversely incentivized to not hire them they will do almost anything else. Demand guest workers and simply not fill the positions in the mean time.
In addition this whole narrative of "structural unemployment" gives some aid and comfort to the view that neither fiscal or monetary stimulus are likely to be effective and that there's no reason for any more.
It could more innocently suggest that maybe the worm is turning. While this recovery has been very weak and tepid, what recovery there has been has been driven by U.S. manufacturing which after 30 plus years of a bear market is now finally coming back. If this is so then the claim that many U.S. workers are unqualified may be legitimate. In addition as the U.S. manufacturing sector has been contracting for so many years not many young college kids even consider degrees in this sort of work. Yet maybe this is where the future is.
There is no question that Americans continue to do ever more poorly in math and science, especially math-though actually in the most recent SAT results reading scores saw a sharp drop where usually math is the worst negative outlier.
If this is true something should be done about education. In fact something must be done anyway as the previous sentence indicates the falling scores. Maybe then young people also need to be recruited and encouraged to do more math and science.
Still if we want more kids taking math, science, and engineering in college perhaps this would be as good a time as any to reform the college loan industry. Right now they are so oppressive many newly graduated students essentially have to send 4 or 5 full years of pay directly to the lenders.
"Medium-skilled repetitive tasks that can be computerized continue to disappear. First, it was from the factory floor, but it also affects the back office, where processing and support jobs are declining."
"The strongest job growth is concentrated in healthcare and the scientific, technical and computer fields, which usually require at least a post-secondary education."
"The old jobs are not coming back. We need to invest in education and training to get people prepared to fill these high-skilled, high-wage jobs of the future," said Eric Spiegel, president and CEO of Siemens Corp.
If Spiegel is right then that could be good news as it means that the jobs are high skilled and high wage rather than what we've become used to over the last 30 years-low wages, deskilling, previously white collar workers becoming burger flippers, etc.
So do I accept the innocent or more perverse interpretation? I think they both have some truth in them. What is clear is that the sooner we get going on building a green energy economy the better.
"Siemens is recruiting in states where unemployment is high. Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, New Jersey, California, Illinois, Georgia, and New York have jobless rates that range from 8 percent to 12.1 percent."
"According to the Conference Board, workers with computer and math or science skills have a far better chance of getting a job, with one worker applying for every three of these types of jobs advertised. In contrast, there are roughly three people for every advertised job in sales."
If this is true then Siemens deserves credit for not being unwilling to hire the unemployed. And if there is 1 worker for every 3 jobs the numbers are highly favorable.
If you are-as I am-unemployed maybe it's worth checking for jobs posted by Siemens. The numbers are reversed for sales which is actually something else I've gotten into during this down turn as at least the barrier to entry isn't high.
At the present it looks like I should have employment soon: I just took a test for both a teacher's assistant license and a security guard license. I passed both but am waiting for when the licenses are processed etc. Hopefully I'll be doing security guard work soon-by November. The pay can be pretty good and it is a field that they're hiring in.
Just another idea if you're looking. Security guards are not necessarily high pressure jobs-unless you seek out being an armed guard or something.
Overall fingers crossed.