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?