Despite a nationwide unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, there’s one sector that can’t seem to fill jobs: the trades.
CBS’ 60 Minutes recently estimated that there are as many as 3 million unfilled trade jobs in the U.S., with more than 500,000 in manufacturing alone. Why are we seeing so many empty positions when millions are struggling to find work? 60 Minutes says there’s a serious “skills gap,” where not enough people are trained for these jobs anymore.
“It’s those basic skill sets. Show up on time, you know, read, write, do math, problem-solve,” Ryan Costella, head of strategic initiatives at fastener manufacturer Click Bond told 60 Minutes. “I can’t tell you how many people even coming out of higher ed with degrees can’t put a sentence together without a major grammatical error. It’s a problem. If you can’t do the resume properly to get the job, you can’t come work for us. We’re in the business of making fasteners that hold systems together that protect people in the air when they’re flying. We’re in the business of perfection.”
Meanwhile, in the auto industry USA Today says there’s “looming” trouble among auto repair businesses that are struggling to find qualified mechanics with the know-how to handle complex diagnostics and troubleshooting. That kind of skill level often requires years of on-the-job experience or training. And many businesses had to cut training and recruitment during the recession, now leaving them with little talent to pull from.
Indeed, advances in technology mean manufacturing and service has become more specialized, requiring a higher level of training and education. But could a reason for this gap also be that there’s simply no incentive for workers? Auto technicians overall earned an average of $35,790 in 2010. Costella told 60 Minutes he hires technicians at $12 per hour.
“I can do a tattoo in three hours and make $300,” 23-year-old Jonathan Hernandez, a student at the Los Angeles Trade Technical College, told USA Today. “Tattoo money is a little easier.”
Others argue that the skills gap is overblown, and the problem lies in not finding real solutions.
Regardless, what are service companies to do? One solution that we’ve written about is for service organizations to develop and train talent from within. Is your company having a hard time finding employees qualified to do the job? How do you go about attracting talent — or cultivating it internally? Let us know in the comments below.