Skilled Factory Workers or Cheap Skilled Factory Workers?

As I wrote earlier, the Washington Post published a story today on the alleged skills gap in the manufacturing sector in Michigan and other parts of the country. If you make your way all the way to the end of the story, after reading various employers lament the fact that the workers they laid off in 2009 now can’t work any of the newfangled machines that these companies installed during the recession, you get to this interesting paragraph:

The shortage of skilled workers has also pushed up wages, though executives said raising them too far could push more work to overseas plants(my emphasis)

In other words, if you are one of those laid off workers who does invest time in the re-training required to get your job back, don’t expect a big return on that investment in the form of higher pay, or we will ship your job overseas.

The article closes with an anecdote that again raises the question as to whether at least some employers who complain about the lack of skilled workers are actually complaining about a lack of cheap skilled workers:

A Michigan company that makes camshafts for cars, as well as farm and mining equipment, has had ads out for at least six months for CNC machine operators and programmers. The pay runs from $15 to $21 an hour, a relatively good wage in this part of the country.

“The problem is as soon as we get someone in, one of our other guys will jump ship,” said Tyson De Jonge, engineering manager at Engine Power Components. “They get better offers.” (my emphasis)

The author of the piece accepts the company’s claim that they are paying a “relatively good wage” even though the evidence seems to contradict this assertion. It sounds like these folks are “jumping ship” because someone is offering them better pay somewhere else.

One thought on “Skilled Factory Workers or Cheap Skilled Factory Workers?

  1. Pingback: Dean Baker Thinks Unfilled Jobs More Due to “Incompetent Managers” Than Skills Gap | Literacy & Policy | Jeff Carter

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