As the nation’s population ages there are two distinct trends occuring in the manufacturing world. This is readily apparent in the plastic injection mold making trade: we see skilled workers retiring and few young people being trained to take their place.
Don’t forget the older workers
Organizations such as the Daughter Of Charity can do a lot to help on both fronts. One, older workers, meaning those who are over say 45 years old, need guidance and support to possibly be retrained as machinists, EDM operators, CNC machine operators and so on.
These older workers very often have a great work ethic, something sadly missing in many of today’s pampered youth. Perhaps it is for this reason that small to medium sized companies seem to prefer locating in rural areas.
With today’s economy in an ever-changing state of flux, experienced workers may suddenly find themselves unemployed for any number of reasons. It could be due to overseas competition, a slow economy, changing markets, changing technologies, or even a failure to adapt to new methods.
What about the coming generation
Young people coming of age face unprecedented challenges. Millions of university graduates flood the marketplace each spring, many competing for the scarce well-paying jobs. Not only that, but when you add the pressure of massive student loan debt, things can get pretty discouraging.
The German model of apprenticeship is an appealing one for the young job seeker. Unfortunately, in the USA apprenticeships seem to have gone the way of manufacturing in general: neglect.
For some reason, manufacturing still carries the stigma of dark, oily, noisy machine shops or scary automotive assembly lines with robot-like people staring blankly as parts move along the assembly line in front of them.
There can be a solution
If local companies and schools can join forces there can be meaningful solutions to both sides of this problem. New programs can be jointly created that meet the needs of the older worker, the younger worker and the manufacturing community.
Apprenticeship programs in which older workers can impart some of their experience, even if it is in an unrelated field, and in which younger workers can benefit are what are needed. Oftentimes the younger becomes the mentor of the older, which can be really interesting to watch or experience.
By combining ongoing education from the local technical college or university with the need for upgraded skills and the eager participation of both older and younger students manufacturing can enjoy new vitality.