WSJ: Factories Looking for a Few Good Workers

Friday, 06 May 2011 01:17 PM

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U.S. manufacturers, a surprise bright spot in an economy with an unemployment rate at 9 percent, are actually hiring these days — and would take on more employees if they could find enough qualified Americans to do the work, The Wall Street Journal reported.  A double-whammy of older workers retiring and fewer U.S. training programs for machinist jobs has left factory floors scrambling for hires.

The trend away from factory vocational training took hold when manufacturing jobs were disappearing at a fast clip in the 2000s.

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Good help is hard to find.
(Getty Images photo)
But April marked a seventh straight month of job gains in the sector, and to fill those posts employers have been nothing if not resourceful: New recruits include former white-collar workers and even former inmates who learned what has become an increasingly sophisticated trade while doing time.

Manufacturers say the U.S. education is another challenge: Too few college degrees are in science, math and engineering, even as fabrication systems become more complex and computerized, and less like the industrial dark-ages stereotype of grueling labor and life-threatening machines.

One technology-services company president says his recruiters work hard “to dispel the nation that it’s dark and dirty and unsafe and boring.”

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