U.S. companies 'desperately seeking' American workers for manufacturing jobs

February 21, 2012

U.S. manufacturing facilities are creating a number of new jobs, but owners of these sites are hard pressed to find American workers who are qualified and capable of performing the associated tasks, CNN Money reported.

There is a "critical shortage of machinists," a common and crucial position for manufacturers, Rob Akers, the vice president at the National Tooling and Machine Associated told the news outlet. "Enrollment in this field in technical schools has been down for a long time."

This lack of qualified workers comes at a bad time for American companies, as domestic contract manufacturers – known as "job shops" – are seeing a boom in business.

Businesses across the U.S. have looked to adjust their manufacturing strategy by adding more workers to meet the increased demand, but the lack of qualifications in many job-seekers is troubling.

"I'm facing a real conundrum," one business owner told CNN Money. "There are so many unemployed people in the country. But I can't find the skill sets that I need. I would hire tomorrow if I could."

According to the news outlet, despite the number of high-paying jobs that exist for qualified machinists, they make roughly $60,000 a year and up to $100,000 with overtime and bonuses, there is a shortage of people entering the field. 

"This is also a highly technical craft," Mitch Free, CEO of MFG.com, told CNN Money. "It requires knowledge of computers, programming, even geometry. You can't hire someone off the street and turn them into a machinist."

The Washington Post reported that the lack of qualified workers has become one of the focal points for both President Barack Obama and many manufacturers. The number of jobs in the sector that are going unfilled is estimated to be 600,000 in the sector, according to a report by Deloitte.

"High unemployment is not making it easier to fill positions, particularly in the areas of skilled production and production support," the report states, according to the Post.

The manufacturing sector is recovering at a remarkable pace compared to the rest of the economy, but qualified workers are needed to support this expansion. Regions like Greater Philadelphia have seen robust growth, and the business owners in the sector in that area of the country remains optimistic about future gains, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia manufacturing activity report.