Dan’s comments were a response he shared with PMPA members regarding the charge of one talking head on last week’s 60 Minutes that ‘there is no Skills Gap… industry would have skilled workers if we only paid higher wages.’
Part of the problem is that nowadays most of the manual labor has been automated out of manufacturing processes.When you had a large pool of unskilled workers performing simple tasks, a company could find the hard working person that had math skills and mechanical aptitude and put them into an apprenticeship program and that person could advance. Today companies need to find that person right out of the box which is very difficult to do.
There are some people that will never be good at math, and the more time I spend in this business, I truly believe that mechanical aptitude is genetic. You either have it or you don’t, and it can’t be taught. Perhaps the solution is to recruit seniors from high schools. There is a standardized test for mechanical aptitude and I think that test, administered along with something like the Predictive Index and a math test, would yield better candidates.
At the end of the day, no school is going to give you a guy that can hit the ground running on an eight-axis Swiss, or be able to set up and troubleshoot a multispindle cam automatic. Companies still have to develop employees with those skills and offer continuous training to keep their employees skill set up to date. Raising wages alone does not create great machinists. Aptitude, attitude, talent, training, and experience do.
These do not arrive by merely raising wages. Higher wages are a reflection of these in an employee.
We need to create a pipeline of talent for our machining craft. Working in conjunction with local community colleges is an ideal way to help take some of the training burden off of small companies. But we have to get involved so that the school gives us what we need in our workforce today.
I just returned from a trip to China. China is different than I imagined.
I was surprised by the number of big American and European cars on the roads. And the factory I visited was world class.
The companies in China are doing plenty of training too. they do because they need machinists too.
It’s not about raising wages. It’s about finding talent and providing training.
As a company, we have always been willing to share our training materials with our customers.