Summer – where has it gone, and how did I miss it?
It seems to me like we just celebrated Memorial Day, honoring our service men and woman. Now we are staring down at Labor Day, which confirms summer is officially over where I come from. Our interns have either left already, depending upon where they go to school, or will depart by the end of this week. We are sad to see them go after a great few months, but we wish them the best. Summer seems to go by in a blink of the eye. I hope you took the time during the warmer months to rest and relax and enjoy some fun with your loved ones. As we know all too well in the Midwest, WINTER IS COMING. While winter was fun as a kid, I do not enjoy it nearly as much in my adult years. Let’s hope fall sticks around long enough in between.
Labor Day is our holiday to celebrate all the working folks that contribute to the strength and well-being of our country. It’s even more important these days to not take these workers for granted, as the challenge grows for our industry to find enough skilled machinists, machine tool operators, or quality personnel. Perhaps this is partly due to our industry needing much more exciting and inspiring job titles. Applications Engineer and Production Technician sound so much better. We will continue in our journey to inspire the next generation and change the perception of what it really means to be part of advanced manufacturing.
The news of the possible locating of the much sought after Foxconn Technology Group $10 billion investment here in Southeastern Wisconsin and the approximately 13,000 jobs to be filled only sends shivers down my spine. Where will all these skilled and semi-skilled workers come from? Surely, Gateway Technical College and the team there will be working aggressively to train the prospective candidates, but where again will they come from? And what will this do for all the manufacturing businesses competing for the limited supply of employable candidates? The answer, my friends, is this: it will be a very competitive market for talent. This is simple Economics 101. Refer to the Supply and Demand curves below. The additional workforce/labor demands will shift D1 to D2 and drive wage inflation, giving the typical worker something to celebrate.
Parents, now is the time to talk with your children about career choices, as well as the costs to acquire the necessary education/skills and the benefits/rewards each career choice offers. I would be fairly certain that most trades offer some of the best ROI scenarios out there, and it will be that way for years to come. Look at all the unfilled positions in manufacturing, and then add in the unfilled positions in the construction trades such as electricians, carpenters, plumbers, HVAC, concrete finishers and so on. The skills gap can be felt in all those trades, and you can guess what happens when Foxconn ramps up. The same is true for auto mechanics. This vocational field also suffers from a lack of interested candidates, and this will only drive up wages there, as well. What will it take to inspire this next generation to explore and pursue the trades?
Here is what I do know. There are many educational opportunities through area high schools, technical colleges, and even some universities, but even the best programs are suffering from lack of interest and enrollment. I have seen this firsthand, and I hear more of the same across other parts of the state. It is unfortunate that so many have labored to develop programs as the investments may fall victim to a lack of interest. The demand for talent is so high, and we really need for these programs to work. How do we ensure that success?
Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 7th as the Precision Plus team will again be hosting our Manufacturing Day Open House from 9:00am to 1:00pm. All are welcome, especially students, parents, and our educators. We would also like to encourage our elected officials to attend, so they can see what today’s advanced manufacturing looks like in Southeast Wisconsin. We had a great turn out last year, but we want to make it so much better. This year we have added the Job Fair and an opportunity to talk one on one with our team about what a manufacturing career could look like for you. Also back by popular demand will be the fun car collection, as we celebrate all things mechanical and the rewards that come from a manufacturing career. There will be food and refreshments, so this is a program the entire family can enjoy.
As we celebrate over the three-day weekend, make a point of thanking a machinist, a welder, and the other trades men and women for all the great things they make for us every day. Without them, we have no cars, airplanes, or oh my gosh, cell phones. (Note: I think they all come from overseas, but here too is an industry we need to reestablish in America once again). Let me start by thanking our entire team here at Precision Plus that help our customer/partners make some of the coolest stuff on the planet. Without you and your efforts and dedication, we could not make it happen. Spend Monday with family and friends, enjoy the good weather before it fades away, and I look forward to seeing you all next Tuesday.
Mike Reader, President
P.S. Be sure to stop in at the Walworth County Fair. It is a great way to celebrate our agricultural heritage and all the good that comes from it. http://www.walworthcountyfair.com/