Companies in the machining world say they are begging to hire young people who want to work. The statistics from the government say unemployment is at a near record low, yet we all know a young person who says they can’t find a job. Why do we have this apparent mismatch? I see many reasons, and I am sure you know of others.
The obvious one is that most young folks do not know manufacturing still exists in the United States. Unless they come from a family in the industry, they probably think all of those jobs left the country for China. If metalworking still exists on their radar, they see it as a dirty, low paying job almost exclusively for men. Even if they are aware of it, the image is that of the lunch pail assembly worker in old movies.
But there is another category of young people who are not knocking on the door. These are the sad, often bright kids who “fail to launch.”
They are your kids or grandkids who are stuck in college programs that will lead nowhere. They know it, but they are afraid to jump into the unknown.
Or, maybe they dropped out of high school and got hooked on drugs.
Possibly they joined a gang in high school because it provided some kind of structure and protection. Many of those people will end up dead or in prison, lives wasted.
And there are the thousands of kids who fritter their days away playing video games.
The parents of these kids see their lives being wasted, and most feel powerless to pull them out of the aimless drift.
I wish I had an all-purpose answer, but I do not. I will throw out a couple ideas.
A religious resurgence might be a partial answer. A church or synagogue or mosque could provide a meeting place. Religious schools generally have shrinking enrollments, but the well-run operations provide an alternative option to the public school systems that often do not teach the courses that prepare kids for productive careers and a grounded adulthood.
Charter schools are another area for hope, though many teachers unions seem to see them as an enemy.
Another thought is mandatory national service. It could be the military, which is still obligatory for both men and women in Israel. It provides a structure and training which builds networks that last for decades when kids get out. After graduation, many Israelis travel the world, making for a more worldly population in the small country. In the United States, we could have public service instead of military service.
None of these ideas are panaceas for the drift that I think we are all aware of when we try to hire somebody with discipline and a passion to succeed and so few young folks show up.
It is truly sad to see so many kids wasting their days staring at screens while many companies are begging for good people.
Do you have any ideas on how to get young people to become productive adults?
Could machining companies be part of a national internship program?
There definitely needs to be more machines in high schools, We need to get more exposure happening earlier, before college, that way they could understand what it is before college, and make more informed decisions about whether they like this field or not.
The people who organize IMTS could put leftovers in schools in Chicago and provide roving instructors.
I think the TV show Bot-Wars is a place where a lot of disciplines come together that would entice kids to view manufacturing and engineering in a more positive light.
What’s not to like about Bot-Wars? You have a radio-controlled robot that wreaks havoc with metal bashing metal. To build the robot takes intuitive knowledge of design, machining, fabrication, welding, hydraulics, pneumatics, electrics, electronics, etc. Maybe all public schools that eliminated shop classes decades ago could form a city league for robotic competition. When you see a 250lb. robot tossed 10 feet into the air, you know that some solid engineering and manufacturing took place for the opposing robot to toss the other high into the air. The teams participating in Bot-Wars have many sponsors with such firms as Mastercam, Haas, welding companies, etc. Money is well spent by these firms sponsoring the kids.
Bob, good suggestion. Robotics could be an “in” to video game world. Haas knows the “game”.
Few things are more disheartening than watching a person, especially a young person, slowly destroy themselves, when so many opportunities lie before them. One, however, is watching an entire nation do likewise. The two are inextricably linked. The issues plaguing our nation, and much of the world, are primarily spiritual. As one of the most materially affluent countries on the planet, we have the “whats” and “how tos”. We lack the “whys”.
I truly believe we need to take a long hard look at getting upgraded and interesting shop classes back in school. Wood working in grade school and machine shop in high. Maybe a high tech machining class for upper classes.
We need to get rid of the vision of the lunch box assembly worker that is stuck in the the heads of most Americans. Time for the machine tool industry to take a lead here and donate machines, classes, and advertising. We need to present an new VISION of manufacturing for today’s kids.
Also, a personal note to all parents from a parent and Granny. Stop letting them waist their time and talent. Shake them up and push them to succeed.
First we need to greatly improve our National Educational system.
The international comparison of world wide educational achievement in 1967 had the U.S. ranked 11th out of 12 nations. The 2018 results show the U.S. in 36th rank out of 79 countries.
Nationwide Public School ratings as of 07/18/2022 does rank Massachusetts first with a overall score of 73.14,
25th ranking South Dakota did achieve a 52.43 score and New Mexico, ranked 50th, had a overall score of 25.26.
Every state considers education their own sacred cow expecting the federal government to come up with increased funding but not allowing it to specify how these funds are to be spend.
It is assumed that HR executives hire applicants based on above rankings.
Fat chance that a student from New Mexico can find a decent job.
Most states in the automobile corridor from Michigan to the deep South did heed the words in the late 60′ of European manufacturers: Adjust your school system to our needs and we will bring our plants.
Now those states are not just assembling cars, they build aircrafts and space vehicles.
Business, manufacturers and industry in general do not invest in their future workforce.
Only recently did United Airlines open up their United Aviate Academy and Delta did announce they will train 5000 pilots. Up to now most of their pilots and related skilled workers came from the military, this Nations taxpayer paid for their training. Boing Everett facilities employs around 30.000 workers, they graduate not more then 50 apprentices per year!! That limited number is a Union contract stipulation.
Every manufacturer can help to create and maintain our skilled workforce. Sign up to exhibit at your H.S. Career Fair, support the local Robotics team, provide a small Additive Manufacturing unit to your school. Plant visits can be a hassle due to transportation and insurance requirements, therefore offer the school a presentation of your products by your junior team members. See to it that your Middle and High schools have a STEM program, support it, they may need some computers or similar items.
Consider short term or long term internships for local students. I know that it is hard to find someone in charge who can facilitate this at your local school.
Paul Huber LSME