Illinois manufacturers are interviewing 60 to 100 applicants to find one skilled worker, details this Chicago Tribune article. The article argues that years of outsourcing and layoffs have led younger workers to think of manufacturing as dead - and too dirty. Of course, with the second worst budget deficit and a tax and regulation-ridden business environment in Illinois, manufacturing jobs are way down.
Surprisingly, "too dirty" hints at another force behind the shortage: problems in education. This article showcases manufacturers' efforts to train employees in skills they should have learned in high school like math, or even machining. Trades high schools, such as Chicago's productive Washburn Trade School, are no longer to be found even if a student wanted to learn machining.
And the government-manufactured push to put everyone in college has seriously depressed student interest trades, crafts, and anything manufactured using one's hands. Another reason for the shortage? The denigration and condescension towards manual labor. Many individuals feel inferior without a college degree today - thanks to the education bubble.
Last summer, our students from The Great Connections Seminar visited the Ultimate Machining & Engineering Company in Plainfield, Illinois. Students were fascinated with the high-tech, computer-driven process through which Ultimate manufactures precision gears and other equipment for Caterpillar and other companies. The owner, John Kulczuga and the V. P., Lynn Minarich, were delighted to have college-age students interested in their work - because so few are. I'm sure this company, like so many others, would welcome the ambitious unemployed to learn their business.