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“600,000 skilled workers wanted”

Posted on October 29, 2011
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blankThere has been a lot of fuss lately about keeping jobs in America. Part of the problem is that U.S. manufacturers have a 20 percent cost disadvantage in the global market compared to its largest trading partners.

High labor cost, numerous regulations and higher taxes have sent many U.S. jobs overseas. The CEO of Coca Cola recently stated that it was easier to do business with Communist China than with the U.S. Evergreen Solar received stimulus money and millions in tax breaks from Massachusetts to manufacture solar panels there. However, they found that they could not compete with China and they shut down their $450 million plant in the U.S. and moved the bulk of their operations to China where they will continue to manufacture solar panels. Even Obama’s million dollar bus was largely manufactured outside of the U.S. in Canada.

But in addition to regulations, an unfriendly business climate and cost, America has a skilled worker disadvantage. Surveys show that U.S. manufacturing companies are having trouble filling 600,000 jobs because they can’t find qualified candidates. America is suffering a talent shortage. Executives claim that part of the problem is that the U.S. education doesn’t produce enough graduates with the basic skills that manufacturing needs.

It is not college graduates that the manufacturers are searching for, but skilled workers such as machinists, operators, craft workers and technicians. These are high-paying jobs that do not require a college education or $100,000 student loans. As manufacturers streamline their production lines and add automation on a continuing basis, they need employees with skills in problem solving.

Recent actions by Fisker Engineering to build electric cars in Finland, after accepting a $529 billion loan from the Obama administration, adds emphasis to the problem. Fisker claims that, “There was no contract manufacturer in the U.S. that could actually produce our vehicle.”
That raises the question; do we need more emphasis on training students for careers outside of college? Is our emphasis on teaching kids how to pass multiple choice tests producing graduates with poor problem-solving skills? Listening to Occupy Wall Street protestors, it is apparent that they are rather clueless in even identifying problems, much less solving them.

27 Oct 2011

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