Industry stepping up to challenge of finding, grooming skilled workers

Below is Herb’s letter to the editor that was published in the Boston Globe:

AUGUST 09, 2015
IN RESPONSE to the Aug. 2 article “Is the skills gap real?” (Ideas & Opinion), I offer a resounding yes. As president of a manufacturing company, and chairman of the National Tooling and Machining Association, I know firsthand the difficulty of finding skilled workers. According to a 2015 survey, 84 percent of our member companies have open skilled positions, and 95 percent of those are facing “moderate” or “severe” problems finding employees.

Manufacturers know that this problem cannot be solved by raising wages, though we wish it were that simple. For example, in Massachusetts last year, the average tool and die maker earned more than $50,000, which is consistent with average salaries for other Bay Staters. In some states, wages are considerably higher.

Finally, any notion that industry is blaming American workers for this problem is false. We are not relying on workers to solve it alone. Nearly 70 percent of our members work directly with community and vocational colleges, and another 40 percent recruit from high schools. In addition, many of our members foot the bill for skills training programs.

For us, the biggest challenge is not proving that there is a skills gap — we know it exists. Our challenge is showing a new generation of workers that manufacturing offers great careers and helping them excel in manufacturing today.

Herb Homeyer

Marthasville, Mo.

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