Monday, February 20, 2012

If Businesses Can't Hire Skilled Workers, They Should Train Them

I hate stories like this:
as the 2012 presidential candidates roam the state offering ways to “bring the jobs back,” many manufacturers say that, in fact, the jobs are already here. What’s missing are the skilled workers needed to fill them.

A metal-parts factory here has been searching since the fall for a machinist, an assembly team leader and a die-setter. Another plant is offering referral bonuses for a welder. And a company that makes molds for automakers has been trying for seven months to fill four spots on the second shift. “Our guys have been working 60 to 70 hours a week, and they’re dead. They’re gone,” said Corey Carolla, vice president of operations at Mach Mold, a 40-man shop in Benton Harbor, Mich. “We need more people. The trouble is finding them.”
If these people really can't hire people with the skills they need, there is a simple answer: train them. How did the guys who have those jobs now learn them? On the job. How did their fathers and grandfathers learn to do factory work? On the job.

Sure, you could turn this around and ask why more young people in Ohio and Michigan aren't learning these skills in trade school or at a community college. The answer is that they just have to open their eyes to see that every time the economy weakens, guys with those skills are the first ones shoved out the door. Why would anybody pay his own money to learn a skill that will only get him laid off? These manufacturers epitomize short-term thinking. They won't make any commitment to their workers, and they wonder why workers won't make any commitment to them. I suppose they worry that if they pay for training, the people who get it will just leave for another factory that pays higher wages because they aren't spending part of their labor budget on training. But this is just more short-sightedness. Most people hate changing jobs, and if you pay them well and treat them well they will probably stay around for a long time. They could even sign their workers to long-term contracts, if they're really worried. But they won't because that would mean actually making a commitment to their people, and that they refuse to do.

1 comment:

McDaddyo said...

Excellent point! I agree completely. In fact, I came to your blog right after making exactly the same point in a Facebook discussion on the topic. I Googled "can't hire skilled workers'' and landed on your blog.
Keep up the good work!