200,000 “replacement workers” Needed for Ohio Manufacturing Jobs

According to a 2010 Ohio Manufacturing Association report, manufacturing was the top private sector employer, comprising 14.11 percent of Ohio jobs in 2008, higher than health care and retail trade, second only to government. As older workers retire it is estimated 200,000 replacements will be needed.[1]

Further complicating matters is advancing technology, which requires new workers to have greater skills and problem-solving abilities. Today’s advanced manufacturing is not your father’s job. No longer is it a repetitive, mundane, minimal involvement job. Todays machinist are pretty much in control and responsible for his/her operation. Somewhat like a mini company within a company.

According to the bureau of labor statistics the annual mean wage for industries with the highest published employment, machinist wages are $40,000 which is comparable to computer operators, massage therapists, and social workers.[2]  The money is there, the jobs are going unfulfilled, and the future of these jobs is long-term. So why aren’t more folks gravitating to this industry…the negative stereotype of years past. Eric Burkland, president of the Ohio Manufacturing Association said  “We in manufacturing need to do a better job of communicating the opportunities that are available in manufacturing and we need our public partners to assist in that”[3]

Isothermal Community College (Spindale, North Carolina) is combating the metalworking industry’s skilled labor shortage by altering young people’s misperceptions about manufacturing and improve the industry’s view of community colleges. They have made a substantial investment in modern machine tools. Most community colleges are teaching with machines that have been donated to them. These are basically antiques which advanced machining techniques cannot be taught. Mike Saunders made the statement “To upgrade our workforce and get more people interested in manufacturing, it is going to take a financial commitment on the part of the colleges, support by the manufacturing community, and getting the word out to our high school students that manufacturing is a great career.

Ohio is not the only state with a skilled labor shortage. Throughout the United States there is an estimated 500,000 manufacturing jobs unfulfilled because of the lack of skilled labor. Despite the nay sayers, manufacturing is not dead in the U.S., it is a problem of staffing.

Joe Panfalone
Application Engineer

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[1]Dayton Daily News Sunday, August 21, 2011

[2]Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2011 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates United States

[3]Dayton Daily News Sunday, August 21, 2011