Now Hiring: US Factories

Manufacturers struggle to fill openings for skilled workers
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2011 2:54 PM CDT
File photo of a worker at a window manufacturing plant in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)

(Newser) – It may seem odd amid days of 9% unemployment, but US manufacturers are struggling to fill openings, the Wall Street Journal reports. One of the problems is that schools aren't producing enough applicants with the requisite math and science knowledge. Factory work no longer equates to no-skills work: Employees need to run and maintain sophisticated equipment in return for salaries in the range of $50,000 to $80,000.

"We get people coming in here all the time who say, 'I can weld,'" says an HR manager at Lehigh Heavy Forge in Pennsylvania, which has million-dollar lathes. "Well, my grandmother could weld." Two other trends contributing to the worker shortage: Baby boomers are retiring en masse even as manufacturers continue to add jobs on a steady if moderate pace.

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