Union Pacific struggles to find enough electricians who have worked with diesel engines. Manufacturers in many places can't find enough machinists. Oil companies must fight for a limited supply of drilling-rig workers.This reminds me of the revelation — in Ron Suskind's book "Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President" — that, back in 2007, Obama and his advisers talked about emphasizing jobs that would reinforce masculine pride. (That led them to the rebuilding infrastructure proposal.)
"There's a tremendous shortage of skilled workers," said Craig Giffi, a vice chairman of the consulting firm Deloitte. A recent survey it did found that 83% of manufacturers reported a moderate or severe shortage of skilled production workers to hire.
The extent and significance of the skills gap is hotly debated in economics circles, in part because of its policy implications. If companies aren't hiring primarily because of limited demand for their products or services, the standard policy prescription offered is some form of stimulus, such as lower interest rates or taxes, or more spending. But to the extent that the problem is companies' inability to find the workers they need, the remedy might instead be training or other efforts to help workers get the skills.
Most research suggests the sluggish economy is the biggest reason for the weak labor market. Data show the skills gap doesn't exist in whole industries but in specific jobs, including certain heavy-duty blue-collar ones.
According to the Wall Street Journal article, large numbers of skilled laborers are retiring these days and it's difficult to replace them in part because of the lack of high-school level vocational training. Consider all the money dumped into college tuition; young people could be getting free training in high school for "secure, well-paying jobs with good benefits... don't require a college degree."