Finding And Retaining Skilled Labor Isn’t Getting Any Easier, Say Our Clients.

Many European companies offer apprenticeship training programs. Why haven’t they been as popular here, and what can companies do to make them fit U.S. business culture?

In the early 1970s, schools cut back on these programs.  The general thinking at the time was that manufacturing was a dirty profession and everyone should go to college, get a 4-year degree and have a white-collar job.  This was the future, or so the popular belief went.

US businesses also curtailed these apprenticeships, due to costs, during slow economic times. And skilled labor was readily available when business improved.  These practices started our manufacturing base on a long downhill slide.  Skilled labor was still plentiful and available for many years.  Every time a plant would close, the skilled labor force released into the market was enough to replenish the workers lost to attrition. 

This process continued for almost 30 years but eventually reached a point where manufacturing stopped shrinking.  Increases in manufacturing efficiency helped mask the severity of the problem and delay the realization of just how big of a problem we were facing.  Finding skilled labor to work in manufacturing is becoming increasingly difficult each passing year. 

In addition, the US government did not appreciate just how important manufacturing was to our standard of living.  It was a general belief that we could maintain our standard of living and become a service-based economy.  It was not until recently that our government realized the importance of manufacturing to our economy.  We have seen the general decrease in the standard of living we have previously enjoyed in the US.  The government has just started taking steps to promote manufacturing and help educate young people about possible careers in these fields over the last few years.

It took 30 years to create this problem, and clients hope that we can correct our mistake before another 30 years passes.  All that any of us can do is to start now and do our best to educate as many young people about the benefits of manufacturing.   In fact, our customers have said it is their biggest challenge, so they work to hire, train, and retain operators themselves, occasionally with grants obtainable from governments.

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David Arnesen

Arnesen Marketing Communications works with businesses and organizations to create and enhance their marketing services through digital and print media and point-of-sale tools. Our services, backed by more than 20 years of experience, are focused on creating coherent messages that help clients compete successfully.

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