From The Editor

D.C. Looking for the Wrong Solution

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During a panel discussion at the recently concluded FABTECH show in Atlanta, economist Chris Kuehl and Reshoring Institute Executive Director Rosemary Coates spent much of their hour on stage talking about the state of manufacturing and the most pressing issue facing manufacturers – filling openings on the shop floor and elsewhere in the operation. 

In the course of their conversation, one comment from Kuehl truly stood out. “We cannot count on the politicians to lead us,” he said. “They say we need to create jobs. We have 1.5 million more jobs than we need. We need to talk about creating people that can fill the jobs we have.” 

Surely, every individual in the manufacturing sector in the room was nodding his or her head in agreement with Kuehl’s assessment. No matter where we are in the country, no matter what segment of the industry we’re dealing with, the most universal complaint we hear from industry leaders is the inability to fill the vacancies they have with the existing workforce. 

At the moment, policy changes or incentive programs to create more jobs are not necessary. Taking today’s, and tomorrow’s, workers and getting them inside and capable of performing in the modern manufacturing facility is where the focus should be. And given the chronic obsession with “job creation” that you hear out of D.C. politicians, that effort is going to have to begin at home. 

For some of the techniques on hiring and training that companies are using to deal with the shortage, see the December issue of Metal Center News

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