June 9, 2017

"I know of employers who are turning down work because they don’t have the manpower to do it."

"We are still seeing a sizable demand for skilled workers in manufacturing."
Milwaukee Forge says it’s looking for people with at least two years of manufacturing experience but not necessarily at a forge shop, where steel is heated to 2,000 degrees and hammered into shape...

“These guys are craftsmen. What they do is an art form.... It’s not easy to find people … and we aren’t just taking anybody who walks in off the street. We are looking for long-term relationships"....

"Good Lord, yes, this job market is good if you’re interested in manufacturing"....

120 comments:

mockturtle said...

Why not apprenticeship?

Robert Cook said...

"Why not apprenticeship?"

Possibly because there aren't enough working (or living) masters to teach the apprentices. Such is the harvest of years of moving American manufacturing overseas.

Comanche Voter said...

A degree in diversity studies won't help. And mockturtle speaks of apprenticeships--which is a great idea for training---see Germany--but is only rarely done here.

A good electrician or plumber does more for society than a mediocre junior college instructor in social justice.

Richard Fagin said...

"We are looking for long term relationships." Not bloody likely. Maybe the experiences of millions former manufacturing workers over the last 35 years makes such statement incredible. That is to say, the "long term" relationship will last only until the interests of the employer are no loner served by the relationship. Do these prospective employers not understand that an organization has a reputation with employees just as it does with its customers?

tim maguire said...

This job market is not good if you are interested in manufacturing, it is good if you have experience in manufacturing. As Mockturtle suggests, the unwillingness of employers to train employees (and why not if, as he claims, be us interested in long term relationships?) Is a major problem in our economy.

Rocketeer said...

“These guys are craftsmen. What they do is an art form.... It’s not easy to find people … and we aren’t just taking anybody who walks in off the street. We are looking for long-term relationships"....

If that we remotely true, they'd drop the bullshit "2 years experience" requirement and train up some responsible folks interested in doing the work.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Apprentice programs are a great idea however there are obstacles

1. Fining the teachers and the time. People who are skilled are already working. and as Cook says not enough people available due to attrition and overseas manufacturing.

2. Taking on an apprentice in many State (California for instance) is not only time consuming for the employer but if you are a small business, cost prohibitive and subject to all sorts of liability issues that the business owner doesn't need to deal with. You will actually lose money and customers if you follow the onerous rules. Farmers are not even allowed to hire their own kids!!

3. High schools have completely gotten away from teaching skilled occupation types of classes. Actually gotten away from teaching pretty much anything, but that is another story.

4. Retaining the apprentices. Often you (the business) will invest significant time and money and suddenly the trainee decides to do something else, or turns out to be just another snowflakey millenial loser. Sunk costs.

Even if everything were to go smoothly, starting an apprenticeship program today won't yield any solutions for years down the road. Leaving us still with the current problem of labor needs and too many unskilled, uneducated people to do the jobs.

This is a problem that has been years in the making thanks mostly to ridiculous laws, regulations and a purposeful diverting of people from useful occupations into useless underwater basket weaving degrees.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

the unwillingness of employers to train employees (and why not if, as he claims, be us interested in long term relationships?) Is a major problem in our economy.

Have any of you ever hired or been responsible for actual employees? Interviewed people for jobs? (be prepared to be shocked at the idiocy of the applicants) Owned a business? Dealt with the reams of regulations, human resources issues, diversity BS, taxes and insurance? Federal Laws, State laws, licensing, certifications?



Dave from Minnesota said...

The photo to go along with that article....show that to most any guy, next to a photo of a guy sitting at a computer all day, or doing retail work. Who won't want to work in industry? I'd love to be working in a foundry.

Dave from Minnesota said...

Dust Bunny.....I've talked (or heard talks by) various business owners over the past few years. Blue collar jobs. Two of the biggest problems they have in hiring:

-The kids want to work 9-5 M-F. Need them to work 6 PM - 2 AM on a Friday night? When all their friends are out in the bars?

-At least in the Twin Cities, its hard to find people who can pass the drug tests. And if they pass the initial test to get hired, they fail random ones later one. To many, using illegal narcotics is more important than holding down a good job.

Dr Weevil said...

Not just the idiocy of the applicants: some have other problems. Years ago, someone told me that a friend of his hiring keypunch operators in downtown D.C. couldn't understand why more than a third of the applicants never bothered to show up for their scheduled interviews. My informant (I think it was YoungHegelian) said he was pretty sure that was all the applicants who knew they would flunk the required drug test, but didn't want to come out and admit that they were druggies, so they just pretended to forget to show up for their interviews.

J. Farmer said...

Here are the two magic words: rase wages.

Dave from Minnesota said...

AA and Dust Bunny.....Eleva-Strum (Wisconsin) high school has one of the countries best manufacturing programs. Cardinal Manufacturing. Governor Walker stopped by to check it out. I took 2 years of French in high school. Didn't get much out of it. Something like this is much better.

http://www.cardinalmanufacturing.org/

rehajm said...

Loving this thread! The fact it even exists means were winning again! It's been at least a decade since employers like this have had to deal with a labor shortage. This one seems ill equipped...

rehajm said...

The foundry has turned to robots and automation to streamline its production, and that’s resulted in a demand for workers with advanced technical skills.

But Cookie's told us there will be no jobs once the robots take over! They can't both be right...

Ralph L said...

A lot of ex-cons are interested in metal work. Or is it the other way around: a lot of young metal workers become ex-cons?

DanDotDan said...

$15/hour? You make that at Burger King.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

J. Farmer said...

Here are the two magic words: rase wages.

Those may be two words, but only one of them means what you think it means...

Achilles said...

Blogger J. Farmer said...
"Here are the two magic words: rase wages."

Wages are going up.

The biggest problem I believe is we are giving the people who should be jumping at these jobs loans to go to school and learn they are too smart to work at these jobs.

pacwest said...

"Have any of you ever hired or been responsible for actual employees"

Somewhere near a thousand in over 40 years in sole proprietor manufacturing (low to mid wages). I'd guess 4 times that number of interviews. Even after that winnowing I'd guess my success rate was less than 25 percent. The main things I looked for were common sense and a good work ethic. Both are in very short supply. The ones who had and showed these qualities were kept on through thick and thin. Sometimes through really thin. Don't get me started on what the amount of paperwork growth over 40 years. Costs from less than 1% of gross revenue grew to 4-5%. Up to 10% on certain government jobs (which sure looked like a lot of make-work for government employees). I'm all in on draining the swamp.

rhhardin said...

You can get as much skill as you're willing to pay for.

The work doesn't cover the cost, is all.

Alex said...

I don't understand the random drug testing. You take it as a given that all millennials smoke pot, how does that impact the job at all? If I want to light up a doobie while welding 2 pieces of steel together, that's MY business not YOURS bub.

Humperdink said...

At the end of my manufacturing career, finding skilled employees was not the biggest issue. We couldn't find anyone who could pass the drug test.

Fernandinande said...

Milwaukee Forge says it’s looking for people

Milwaukee Forge, LLC Jobs

1 - 7 of 7 Current Job Openings:

Purchasing Manager
Accounting Analyst
Quality Manager
Maintenance Technician
Press Shop Supervisor
Forging Press Operator
Manual Turning Machine Operator

If you click each job title you'll see that "20+ other people applied to this job" for each opening.

320Busdriver said...

"Well the world needs ditch diggers too"

Judge Smails

pacwest said...

"If I want to light up a doobie while welding 2 pieces of steel together, that's MY business not YOURS bub."

Wow, just wow.

"We couldn't find anyone who could pass the drug test."

And we never gave them. Drugs on site were firing grounds though. Alcohol was always the biggest problem.

exiledonmainstreet said...

Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" has made this point many times. There are plenty of guys who are sitting in cubicles feeling miserable who would be much happier and more fulfilled working with their hands. But because of the stigma blue collar work has acquired, they or their parents felt they had to get the college degree.

It's really insane: kids who would be better off not going to college at all, go and pile up huge debt for what has become, outside of STEM, an inferior product. Some become indoctrinated; for others, it a 4 or 5 year party, a way of delaying adulthood. In the meantime, jobs go begging.

320Busdriver said...

Drugs have no place in the workplace, especially in mfg.

traditionalguy said...

The Obama years of Crony Capitalism uber alles will need getting rid of. That sells the old business to the highest bidder who has to hire new untrained employees. But after a year or two those guys have the skills and the older business they replaced has fired its trained workers who are now are dead. on welfare benefits and drugs, or suicides.

There will be a transition like Moses leading the 12 tribes out of Egypt. It takes some time to leave the old ways behind and be free and great.

320Busdriver said...

Wow just wow, I thought the same thing

Bad Lieutenant said...

Humperdink said...
At the end of my manufacturing career, finding skilled employees was not the biggest issue. We couldn't find anyone who could pass the drug test.

6/9/17, 11:41 AM

Stop drug testing.

Test functionally, if they can't walk a straight line or put two edges together or do whatever fine work tasks there are, they go home. Also works if they are clean/sober but just tired. As above, alcohol is probably a bigger problem and I assume there is no booze testing as alcohol is legal.

mockturtle said...

DBQ asserts: 2. Taking on an apprentice in many State (California for instance) is not only time consuming for the employer but if you are a small business, cost prohibitive and subject to all sorts of liability issues that the business owner doesn't need to deal with. You will actually lose money and customers if you follow the onerous rules. Farmers are not even allowed to hire their own kids!!

But if it is true that these manufacturers are turning away jobs due to lack of manpower, it might seem worth the effort.

I have hired, trained and supervised other employees. I actually enjoyed it and found that if you exhibit genuine enthusiasm for the work and the company, trainees will likely follow.

Humperdink said...

"Stop drug testing.

Nope, not with rotating machinery, thank you very much. Or molten steel. Or an overhead crane.

Achilles said...

"Wow, just wow."

Pretty sure he was joking. Pretty sure...

bagoh20 said...

Like packwest, I've hired way over a thousand employees over the years, and I'd say my success rate is about 1 in 10. You don't have to be skilled, experienced, or even smart. I can teach you to do things that will make you well worth the cost as your rising wages, but I can't teach you drive, integrity, or how self-respect needs to be earned, at least not quickly enough for most.

You can blame exporting of jobs for the lack of them, but it's a two way street. As the costs to employ people has risen sharply with much of it not really benefiting employees or employers, the employees have just gotten far less of a value. Lots of reasons for that from regulations to education, but I would sum them all up as coddling and the destructiveness of low expectations required when equality is your main value. Everything gets inflexibly set to serve the lowest common denominator and outlaws creativity in hiring and finding work. Labor is one component of what a business needs to build what it sells. Unlike most other components the quality has dropped dramatically as price has risen. There is only one result possible from that. You find a way to not use as much of that component. Economics is like physics. The rules is the rules, no matter what you want.

I do what I can to build our labor into a better value, but the raw material has gone to hell. The Left has just ruined much of it.

Fernandinande said...

No job openings are listed at Milwaukee Forge's own "careers" webpage:

Careers at Milwaukee Forge

Milwaukee Forge is an Equal Opportunity Employer [sic]...

If you are a career-oriented, highly motivated individual, interested in being part of a growing firm, we want to hear from you. We are currently seeking talented individuals to contribute to our team.

To apply and submit your resume for consideration, Click Here.

traditionalguy said...

In other economic news, the USA that imported 1 million barrels of Arab oil a day for the past 45 years now exports a million barrels of oil a day on the world market.

In petro dollars that is a 2 for 1 swing in our favor. Trump now has an amazing bargaining position , and if no one else noticed it, The Terrible Donald did.

Inga said...

My son is a Millwright journeyman in Milwaukee and the surrounding area. He gets so much overtime, he turns some down. The old guys are dying or retiring and not enough tradespeople have been trained. There is work out there, at least in Milwaukee for skilled workers.

Dave from Minnesota said...

Ashley Furniture in Arcadia has had some full page ads in local papers talking about how anti-business the government is. They show how much they pay in taxes and how ever-increasing regulations make it hard to do manufacturing in the US.

Related...I talked to a couple of businessmen from central Wisconsin a couple of years ago. They have started up and expanded several businesses over the years. They said the difference between Doyle and Walker.......if they had a project, they'd do all the required paperwork, file it with the state (DNR primarily). And under Doyle, usually they received a short response. "NO".

Under Walker, the DNR would go over the permits and plans, and respond by saying "we can't approve this as is, but if you make these changes, we will".

Boxty said...

Google any city + community college + plumbing like I did and you'll find they offer a whole host of trade programs from construction to welding. So finding instructors isn't a problem. We even have a program in California called CalApprenticeships that hook students up with employers for paid on-the-job instruction.

The real problem is that you won't find master tradesmen that will work for $12 an hour unless you look in countries where the wages are a fraction of U.S. wages and just getting a green card alone is priceless. No apprenticeship program can fix that.

pacwest said...

The employer can be liable for knowingly letting an employee operate machinery while impaired. And if you don't get hammered for that, just wait til OSHA shows up.

And Alex, it is in fact MY, I repeat, MY business, not yours. You're fired buddy.

Inga said...

"Like packwest, I've hired way over a thousand employees over the years, and I'd say my success rate is about 1 in 10. You don't have to be skilled, experienced, or even smart. I can teach you to do things that will make you well worth the cost as your rising wages, but I can't teach you drive, integrity, or how self-respect needs to be earned, at least not quickly enough for most."

If you're smart, you'll go through the 4 year apprenticeship program and get the Journeyman certification. You'll earn far more money than if you work for some guy who wants your skilled labor for unskilled wages.

Dave from Minnesota said...

Has AA ever talked about the Joseph Project? Taking inner city Milwaukee folks and getting them the training, transportation, and other skills needed to manufacturing jobs in Sheboygan county. Senator Johnson is heavily involved in this. So are churches in Milwaukee northside.

A Republican businessman and Christian preachers. Wonder what an old anti-Christian bigot like Soglin feels about this.

Achilles said...

Blogger bagoh20 said...
"Like packwest, I've hired way over a thousand employees over the years, and I'd say my success rate is about 1 in 10. You don't have to be skilled, experienced, or even smart. I can teach you to do things that will make you well worth the cost as your rising wages, but I can't teach you drive, integrity, or how self-respect needs to be earned, at least not quickly enough for most. "

This.

Self motivation, honesty, integrity. You don't even need to be the smartest person in the world just come to work do your job and don't contrive ways to sue me.

It is worth paying to train someone who doesn't want to find ways to sue you or steal your stuff. Public education is a complete failure in this.

richlb said...

So. Much. Winning.

bagoh20 said...

It's pretty simple: Learn to be highly valuable in skill, attitude, and output. Such a person gets whatever they want in life, becuase hardly anyone is willing to do that. You shine like a lighthouse.

Inga said...

Also, if the worker wants to change jobs, he's not going to have the requisite certification to prove he is a skilled tradesman.

Inga said...

"It's pretty simple: Learn to be highly valuable in skill, attitude, and output. Such a person gets whatever they want in life, becuase hardly anyone is willing to do that. You shine like a lighthouse."

In a perfect world. We live in an imperfect world in which some employers are not so ethical.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

pacwest and Bagoh20 can be our voices of experience in hiring and training employees and their place in the cost of production. While taking on raw trainees seems like a worthy thing to do, people need to realize that a business has to make money and it is more often than not a losing proposition for the employer. I've only had to hire a few people in my self controlled business and had to be involved in hiring many people for the financial institution that I worked for. The applicants presented to me were shockingly ignorant of almost everything. We tended to hire older people who at least had some education and work ethic.
,
When 1 out of 10 or more optimistically, only 25% of hires are worth it, can do the job or are even willing to do the job, it is no wonder that the employer is wary of apprentice programs.

THIS CAN'T BE REPEATED ENOUGH; As the costs to employ people has risen sharply with much of it not really benefiting employees or employers, the employees have just gotten far less of a value. Lots of reasons for that from regulations to education, but I would sum them all up as coddling and the destructiveness of low expectations required when equality is your main value. Everything gets inflexibly set to serve the lowest common denominator and outlaws creativity in hiring and finding work. Labor is one component of what a business needs to build what it sells. Unlike most other components the quality has dropped dramatically as price has risen. There is only one result possible from that. You find a way to not use as much of that component. Economics is like physics. The rules is the rules, no matter what you want.

And to the person who remarked that you can make $15 an hour at Burger King. Yes. This is true. But they aren't equal comparisons. Burger King for 20 hours a week. That is your top wage. No chance of promotion or over time. No benefit package either.

Instead work at a skilled trade 40 PLUS hours a week. Options to learn, advance, get top pay and have (usually) a pretty nice benefit package.

Skilled work where you are a valuable asset to your employer....versus and job where anyone who can fog a mirror can do it and you are a replaceable cog.

Fernandinande said...

jobcenterofwisconsin.com, zipcode 53202

Purchasing Manager - 16 openings
Accounting Analyst - 10
Quality Manager - 90*
Maintenance Technician - 13*
Press Shop Supervisor - 0
Forging Press Operator - 0
Manual Turning Machine Operator - 0

Shorter job descriptions:
Machine Operator - 0 openings
Press Operator - 0

*result descriptions were all over the place, often nothing in common other than "Manager" or "Technician", as in lawncare.

Scott M said...

NO NO NO

If you don't go away to college and saddle yourself with life-long debt, how in the world will you ever be able to recognize how awful humans (especially American, white, male, cis, Christian, humans) are or speak truth-to-power?

The trades are sooooo bourgeoisie.

Scott M said...

Here are the two magic words: rase wages.

I think you meant "raze", but that's already been done by the feds casting a blind eye to the illegal immigration of millions of low-skilled, uneducated workers.

bagoh20 said...

"It's pretty simple: Learn to be highly valuable in skill, attitude, and output. Such a person gets whatever they want in life, becuase hardly anyone is willing to do that. You shine like a lighthouse."

" In a perfect world. We live in an imperfect world in which some employers are not so ethical."

That's the excuse that usually indicates the attitude that makes everything worthless. Anybody who works for an employer that treats them bad is simply lazy. If your boss is really the problem, fire him and find a new one.

J. Farmer said...

@Scott M:

I think you meant "raze", but that's already been done by the feds casting a blind eye to the illegal immigration of millions of low-skilled, uneducated workers.

No. Raise. It was a simple typo. As for illegal immigration and wages, you are pushing on an open door with me.

@Achilles:

The biggest problem I believe is we are giving the people who should be jumping at these jobs loans to go to school and learn they are too smart to work at these jobs.

I don't think that's as big a problem as you imagine. Almost 70% of American adults have no college degree.

TosaGuy said...

"Has AA ever talked about the Joseph Project? Taking inner city Milwaukee folks and getting them the training, transportation, and other skills needed to manufacturing jobs in Sheboygan county. Senator Johnson is heavily involved in this. So are churches in Milwaukee northside.

A Republican businessman and Christian preachers. Wonder what an old anti-Christian bigot like Soglin feels about this."

Don't know about Soglin, but Milwaukee's progs think the Joseph Project and the businesses exploits People of Color (TM) and rips those people out of their community while they ride buses from Milwaukee to Sheboygan.

pacwest said...

@bagoh20
Not sure of your manufacturing process, but one of things I adopted in later years was having the newbie interviews put together a 100 pc jigsaw puzzle. It tells you a lot even before they start assembly. The ability to do the puzzle was the small part of what you learn about them.

bagoh20 said...

I think everyone should be working toward being their own boss, either with or without employees under you. That's what I encourage at my business. Learn here, but go out and make your own thing, teach others while you benefit together from that relationship. Maybe we can work together when you get going. Never be satisfied with where you are, becuase eventually you won't be, and then it might be too late. If a college drop out, formerly homeless and broke for many years can become a multimillionaire, why not you?

And It's flipping FRIDAY!!!!!!! Wooohooo!

J. Farmer said...

@bagoh20:

I think everyone should be working toward being their own boss, either with or without employees under you.

What about the 25% or so of the population with IQs below 90?

bagoh20 said...

pacwest, That's a good idea. We do machine shop type metal work. Back when I did the shop hiring, I would describe a current real problem we were having with something we do, and ask the applicant how they would solve it. Most would be stumped, but great people will try to answer and keep trying. It didn't matter so much if the ideas were valid, but did they have the drive and open mind to keep coming up with stuff. A couple times they even solved the problem a way we never thought of and it worked.

bagoh20 said...

"What about the 25% or so of the population with IQs below 90?"

The Democratic Party needs candidates of a higher quality right now.

Rusty said...

Mock @ 11:58
The problem a tool and die apprenticeship is from five to six years. That's a big commitment for a teacher and an employer.

bagoh20 said...

Some of my best people do drugs outside of work. I'm fine with that, and I thinks it's none of my business, as long as they don't ask about my cross-dressing on weekends.

Again: It's Fridaaaaaaaaaaay!

J. Farmer said...

@bagoh20:

"What about the 25% or so of the population with IQs below 90?"

The Democratic Party needs candidates of a higher quality right now.


So you have no answer to that question? You've had time to think about it. Michael Young first sound the alarm in 1958 with his classic satire The Rise of the Meritocracy. Murray crystallized it nearly 25 years ago in The Bell Curve.

Scott M said...

No. Raise. It was a simple typo.

Sorry about that...I thought I was using my sarcasm font when I made that obvious quip :)

Bill Peschel said...

Might as well put it out there: When I lost my job as a newspaper copy editor (22 years experience), I was required for a year to apply to at least three jobs a week to keep up my unemployment benefits.

And I did it, applying directly to lobbying firms in the state capital (someone has to write and edit reports, right?) as well as to whatever came up at the state's job site. Some of them were long shots, granted, but a crafts magazine needed an editor, a company creating staging for concerts needed a tech writer, a local company that published hundreds of technical publications for universities. Heck, I even applied to the state for editing jobs, and the USPS for a part-time fill-in carrier position.

More than 150 jobs applied for, the majority of them through online portals, and I received zero rejections and one interview, for the Postal Service job.

That's what the job market was like in 2013 for this mid-50s professional. Make of that what you will.

Bill Peschel said...

I guess I should have added that I can pass any drug test and I don't have a record. (Fortunately I finally found a job, but damn that was a depressing year.)

mockturtle said...

Another field worth considering for a young man [or, I suppose, woman] is heavy equipment operation. Here in the west it is always in demand. Once you can afford your own equipment you can branch out on your own or maybe buy into the business.

The sorry truth is that most young people today are both lazy and stupid. Their world seems to begin and end at their smart phone. If it can't be accessed that way, it doesn't exist.

RonF said...

Question: if you add up the value of all the various public benefits (welfare, food stamps, healthcare, government phone, Section 8 housing, etc., etc.) that you would have to pay for yourself if you have a job, how much money do you have to earn at a job to make it pay to take it?

RonF said...

A friend of mine does crane and elevator repair. He says that if someone takes a few months to learn to weld he'll find them a job.

Achilles said...

Blogger J. Farmer said...

"What about the 25% or so of the population with IQs below 90?"

Almost no entry level jobs need more than that in manufacturing. They will need to work harder to learn but they can do that. If they show up, can learn from someone else already doing it a good lead will figure out the more complicated issues.

The biggest problem is most entry level applicants ARE entry level because they are lazy and/or morally deficient. The two are surprisingly correlated and for the most part learned during the formative years. A person that works hard and does the right thing when nobody is watching them is going to be fine.

Achilles said...

Pacwest said...

"Up to 10% on certain government jobs (which sure looked like a lot of make-work for government employees). I'm all in on draining the swamp."

I want to emphasize this point for two reasons. First is the burden that the government puts on people who actually do things.

The second is that the government seems to attract unemployable morally deficient people who would never get hired for a real job who literally do nothing for anybody and attach themselves to private business people like ticks.

pacwest said...

bagho20, I did similar to you with the experienced hires. We were a commercial casework company (woodwork for banks, hospitals, courtrooms, etc). There are lots of variations on the jigsaw puzzle. If I thought I had a good interviewee I'd give them a puzzle missing a piece. Once they discovered a piece was missing reactions varied from "That's not fair" to "I must have screwed up somehow". You know who got the job. Re encouragement- I always did that too. I created several of my main competitors. One nearly drove me (and himself) under until he got a handle on his true costs. I was friends with him throughout. Good on him. All of them.


Addition to my first post:
In 40+ years direct shop floor labor costs went from 35% to 12% due to automation and process improvements. Labor is not as an important factor in the manufacturing business as it used to be.

Sorry about cluttering up the thread.

Seeing Red said...

70% don't have a college degree?

What's the age breakdown and does that include jr. College?

exhelodrvr1 said...

Some community colleges have excellent programs for those types of jobs. But community college is looked down upon.

Seeing Red said...

4-5 years ago I was at a gas station and the 2 guys in front of me didn't have enuf money for gas. The friend had driven the buddy 20 miles for a job interview. The issue was he had a new debit card, but didn't wait the required time to activate it. I heard the whole convo and then some. So I did my good deed, put in 4 gal. Of gas to tide them over, and suggested to the job hunter to Go North, Young Man. You are single, have no responsibilities and North Dakota needed people to work in the fields. Suck it up, go work 3-4 years, save your money and come back and do what you want.

He probably didn't, but, he should have.

Drill, Baby, Drill!

Isn't it interesting that our former elitist credentialed president couldn't understand what the rubes could?

Left Bank of the Charles said...

Have they considered womanpower?

Francisco D said...

There are many factors involved in the difficulty manufacturers have in finding skilled employees. I've noticed an important one since moving to Iowa several years ago.

35 years ago, a guy could keep himself awake enough to graduate high school (Iowa = 90% HS graduation rate) and get a good unskilled union labor job. His wages, pension and benefits increased over time and his family was able to live a solid blue collar middle class life.

Those jobs have been in decline over the last 30 years because of automation and overseas labor markets. The market is for skilled rather than unskilled labor. Unfortunately, many of those union guys did not understand that their kids would never be able to have careers as they did.

I have run across a lot of people whose kids are struggling (In their 20's and 30's) because they never acquired the skills to compete in today's labor market. They also do not seem to have the work ethic. There is no point in artificially raising wages for jobs that add little value. We can build robots to take orders at McDonalds. We need people to build, program and repair those robots. That takes skills training.

Keeping Mexicans out is not going to result in a plethora of opportunities for unskilled American laborers. Developing a curriculum for young boys to engage their brains is what we need.



Firehand said...

When son was taking basic training as a machinist, a bunch of people in the class were having real problems with the math. One more win for the public education system.

And those people wanted to succeed at it; it's a good-paying job that's in demand. Like a lot of the other skilled trades.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Humperdink said...
"Stop drug testing.

Nope, not with rotating machinery, thank you very much. Or molten steel. Or an overhead crane.

6/9/17, 11:59 AM

Don't know where you failed to understand me, but I suggested you adopt FUNCTIONAL testing. If you can't touch your nose with your finger, or stand on one foot, or whatever the proper test is, you shouldn't operate machinery etc, whether your immediate problem is coke, pot, Benadryl/Nyquil/Rx for a legit illness, no sleep, sick child, dyslexic, or what.

If you smoked a joint yesterday, you are not high/impaired today. But if you smoked it 30 days ago, it can still be detected in the bloodstream, and for years in hair.

It's not a morals thing anymore, not with legalization. Your only legit beef is impairment and the best test for impairment is impairment testing.

eddie willers said...

You are single, have no responsibilities and North Dakota needed people to work in the fields. Suck it up, go work 3-4 years, save your money and come back and do what you want.


Had an ex-brother-in-law who did something similar in the 70's. Went to Alaska and worked on the pipeline. Made a shitload of money and rode that for the rest of his life.

Todd said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Have any of you ever hired or been responsible for actual employees? Interviewed people for jobs? (be prepared to be shocked at the idiocy of the applicants).

6/9/17, 10:53 AM


OMG! I work in the tech field and have to interview programmers and such. I did one interview for a program position (some years ago) doing internet development. HTML, ColdFusion, JavaScript, client-side, server-side, interactions with MS SQL, possible migration to MS C#. A big deal. Adding to an existing team. Came across a great resume. Went through the evaluation process. Brought the person in for the interview and they "said" all the right things. Back in those days, I would have a "questionnaire" of 10 or so language specific things to ask/discuss. 3 easy, 3 medium, 3 hard, and one OMG question. Things started going off the rails as we got into the 3 mediums. Drilled into their work experience, asking in detail about the projects they listed. Long story short, the resume was their spouse's not theirs. So I asked if the spouse was available.

How people think they will NOT be found out when they do that sort of thing is what I find unbelievable. You can talk a good game all you want but when the rubber meets the road and you can't deliver, you will be found out.

Rick Turley said...

STEM graduates - designing and building a car is hard work.

FIRE graduates - selling, financing, and insuring a car is easy work.

Humperdink said...

Bad Lieutenant said: " Your only legit beef is impairment and the best test for impairment is impairment testing."

Assuming you hired the doper after he passed the impairment test, how often do you perform subsequent impairment testing? Daily? Weekly? After his/her lunch break? After he lost his/her right arm operating a turret lathe?

Why you could even advertise: "We hire unimpaired dopers". (May want clear the ad with your workers comp insurer though.)

bagoh20 said...

"What about the 25% or so of the population with IQs below 90?"

Of course there are people who will never be able to manage a business, but that has no bearing on the goals of the rest. We support the less able with public and private help as best we can, especially by giving them work to do that is as important and rewarding as possible, but the rest of us need to strive to do our best too, so that we can support ourselves and have enough left over to help those born at a disadvantage, like Democrats and college professors.

bagoh20 said...

I forgot "Bless their hearts."

Alex said...

I think drug users are unfairly discriminated against in jobs.

Paul Ciotti said...

Wages of blue collar workers have been stagnant now for three decades. They need to go up. We shouldn't wring our hands at wage increases. We should applaud them. Prices will go up, I know but liberal economists have told us for years that when unions negotiate wage increases it's great for the economy. Price increases should also be great if they are driven by the law of supply and demand.

Gospace said...

WE just hired two new boiler operators so in another month I won't be working 18 hours of week in overtime. I'm 62. The 2 new hires are I their 50's. We're paying more then they were getting in their old jobs as boiler operators. Now their old employers have to find people to fill slots...

The Navy use to provide 90% of OJT for boiler operators and stationary engineers. All new ships are either gas turbine or large slow speed diesel. The initial training and experience isn't there anymore. And no one but large utilities hire's apprentices, because there's no work for an apprentice in a small plant except learning. And once they're trained, if there's no opening, what do you do with them? In a plant with 40 or 50 operators at different levels, you'll always have some tasks that need doing, so you can have helpers and wipers who can look forward to promotion. In a plant that runs with 5 people plus a supervisor, well, you have an idea when someone is going to retire. Unfortunately, you can't predict when someone is going to show up at work and blow a .25 on a breathalyzer... And human resources hates paying out good money for operators because they don't have a college degree, and they really can't see bringing on a trainee just to train.

AReasonableMan said...

Alex said...
I think drug users are unfairly discriminated against in jobs.


Not sure that working with large hunks of metal heated to just below melting temperature is the ideal environment for drug users.

mockturtle said...

Alex asserts: I think drug users are unfairly discriminated against in jobs.

I don't think so. There are at least two good reasons for not hiring drug users:
1. Impaired judgment can lead to accidents and costly mistakes.
2. Drug users are more likely to steal to support their habit.

Humperdink said...

"I think drug users are unfairly discriminated against in jobs."

Well, they could to get promoted to the distribution side of the drug business. I've heard it's dead end job, so to speak.

iowan2 said...

Just an anecdote. About 150 years ago, I went to a Temp agency to have a drug test administered. As I waited in the waiting area, there were about 50 posters scattered around. Most different, but all with the same message. You are required to show up to work every day, every single day. Of all the messages that need to be communicated, for them, the most important was to tell the employees that had to show up for work. Society has done a poor job teaching children basic things.

iowan2 said...

15 years ago. Sheeesh.

John said...

Blogger Paul Ciotti said...

Wages of blue collar workers have been stagnant now for three decades.

I hear this often but the person saying it never knows what they mean by it. Do you mean that the average wage of the entire cohort of blue collar workers has not gone up?

Do you mean that the wages of most individual BCWs has not gone up as they gain experience in the workplace? That the 40 year old worker is making as much as they did when they were 20?

What do you mean by the statement?

ANd when you say wages, do you mean take home pay? (Taxes take more these days than 30 years ago) Maybe you mean gross pay? I am pretty certain you don't mean total compensation.

For example, they get more time off now. They get a more expensive medical plan. It may or may not be better with things like dental, drugs etc that they might not have gotten 30 years ago. Or it may not even be as good. It will certainly be nmore expensive. Does that increased medical benefit get included in your "stagnant" wages? It should be.

And I am also pretty sure that you are not talking about the cost of employees. As several people have mentioned, this has gone up considerably over the years for a number of reasons including govt fees and taxes, regulation, costs of hiring and firing and other direct and indirect costs.

John Henry

SukieTawdry said...

I would like to see trade and craft schools on college campuses. It would be nice to see people walking away with real skills for a change.

John said...


Blogger Paul Ciotti said...

Wages of blue collar workers have been stagnant now for three decades.

All that above begs another question, Paul (and anyone else that wants to take a stab at it)

WHY should wages/compensation go up at all over time? (In inflation adjusted dollars) Does the worker get better at their job? Do they become more productive? Do they get less costly to employ?

Some do, of course. Several here have mentioned the importance of motivation. Some will start unskilled and, with experience, gain skills that make them more valuable. As they get more valuable, they will get paid more. Note that I said "will" not should.

These are the exceptions. Far more common is the unskilled/semi-skilled worker who is hired, learns how to operate a machine or perform a task. At the end of a month or two or six they are as productive as they will ever be. This may be because of the job or because of the personality but it doesn't really matter, they are not getting any better or any more skilled.

Why should there pay increase after that initial learning curve?

Maybe the employer has bought a new machine and taught the worker to operate it. Now, because of the machine, the worker is more productive. Should the worker get paid more? They didn't do anything to earn it. The employer invested the money in buying, installing the machine and training the worker. The employer is the one taking all the risk. How much of the value of the additional productivity should fall to the employer and how much to the employee?

I would say most of it should go to the employer. Maybe even all in some cases.

So is the problem that wages are stagnant?

Or that employees are stagnant?

John Henry

John said...

If you have not listened to the podcast

http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2012/02/adam_davidson_o.html

Or read the article,

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/01/making-it-in-america/308844/

Do it now.

This covers much what is being discussed in the thread. It focuses on a Standard Auto Parts plant in South Carolina. The company also has plants in China so that gets brought in too.

It focuses on 2 blue collar workers in the plant. One is a machinist who runs a fully automated CNC machine. He has a pretty impressive skill set and makes a good dollar. The other is an unskilled (can learn the job in less than a week) operator feeding parts into a machine by hand. Does OK money wise but not all that much better than she would do at Waffle House.

John Henry

John said...

Blogger iowan2 said...

You are required to show up to work every day, every single day.


Back in the 80s I had a friend who owned a dress factory in Puerto Rico. Mid range stuff, the kind of thing a woman would buy in Penneys to wear to an office job. He did OK but not that well to make it worth all the aggravation. At least that's how it seemed to me.

As part of the Caribbean Basin Initiative he was encouraged to open a plant in Haiti.

Biggest mistake he ever made, he told me. He figured unskilled sewing is unskilled sewing and can be taught to anyone. Pay was something like 25 cents an hour, compared to $4-5 in PR plus lots of benefits. How bad could they be, he thought?

He lost his ass on this deal. Lots of problems with doing business in Haiti but the workers were problematic. One of the things we take for granted is a sense of time. They had no sense of time. They did not understand the concept or even know how to read a clock. They would wonder in and out at random.

You just can't run a plant when you can't depend on people to show up at 8AM and stay til 5 (or whatever schedule)

John Henry

Gospace said...

Productivity is changing in ways most people can't see. Turbine blades used to be (and in some cases still are) machined and balanced from a block of metal. Lot's of waste and shavings. Now the blade is 3D printed, comes out better balanced to start, and usually just needs a little smoothing from a machinist. And not even really that. It's gets put into exactly the right position in the milling machine, and the CNC code takes over.

Anything that can be produced in a plant and shipped is going to soon have most or the production steps automated. One of kind on-site installations are going to continue to provide jobs. And even there--- there are now bricklaying machines. Much faster and more accurate then human bricklayers. And it's been demonstrated that you can assemble in a short while a giant 3D printer that will print a house in concrete. But John Henry is right about factory work. Eventually there will be one or two highly skilled people to repair and troubleshoot the assembly machines. Everyone else will be feeding the machine the material it needs to do the job.

John said...

Gospace,

I saw my first 3D printer at a Hewlett Packard plant in 2001. It cost about $250,000 and was the size of a large desk, perhaps a bit taller. I have wanted one ever since.

I finally bought one a couple weeks ago. Da Vinci Mini. About $250.00 at Amazon. A pretty amazing machine.

There was a 3D pavilion at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago and I got a pre-show press tour. You got it exactly right, as far as you went. In realty, the technology goes far beyond anything 98% of people can imagine. It is the stuff of science fiction and it is here today.

For example, a 3D printed Shelby Cobra, full size and did 100mph on a test track in Oak Ridge TN. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXvIMRklWiM

First car I've ever seen with an E-Stop on the dashboard. I was told it was required by govt regulations.

I also saw multi-axis CNC lathe/mills with 8-10 tool heads for under $60,000. These still cut metal but can automatically do things that the most skilled machinist with the highest end machines could not have done at all 30 years ago.

John Henry

Guildofcannonballs said...

I could make you billionaires if you just bring me on as numero uno, top dog, king pimp, ballin' daddy. The others will call me a consultant and I will be as feared as both Bobs combined in Office Space.

You limit only yourselves with your preconceptions of what I have to teach you, and what you must learn.

Guildofcannonballs said...

The question remains thus: How far shall I push them? The full Ermey Full Metal Jacket? Are you ready for Private Pyle to transform into Rambo?

Souls are on the line folks.

YOU WILL LEARN BY THE NUMBERS, I WILL TEACH YOU!

Jeff Teal said...

No drug testing sounds fine.Until somebody runs a drill through his hand and the insurance company jacks your workmans comp.rates because the idiot on the drill press tested positive for THC.And don't tell me that it is the smokers risk because his wifey and kiddies will apply for "benefits".

Ray said...

Schools are a huge issue. In California where I was a sub after being laid off, I saw a few electronic labs and home economics rooms that had been converted to regular classrooms with everybody on the college track. Classes such as auto, welding, machine shop etc were now only available at Jr colleges. The huge drop out rate st many high schools shows the failure of this model.

Hiring people who can think is hard. I like the puzzle idea. Screening the apps by asking to follow a dimple direction is good. Applying online is so easy, you want to filter out those that did not even read your ads saves a lot of time.

Rusty said...

John said...
Gospace,

"I saw my first 3D printer at a Hewlett Packard plant in 2001. It cost about $250,000 and was the size of a large desk, perhaps a bit taller. I have wanted one ever since.

I finally bought one a couple weeks ago. Da Vinci Mini. About $250.00 at Amazon. A pretty amazing machine."

Bought a Cetus 3D printer while I was laid up to keep from getting bored. It worked. I also downloaded 'Fusion 360' ties the whole thing together. I'm going through a spool about every two weeks.
Much funness.

There was a 3D pavilion at the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago and I got a pre-show press tour. You got it exactly right, as far as you went. In realty, the technology goes far beyond anything 98% of people can imagine. It is the stuff of science fiction and it is here today.

For example, a 3D printed Shelby Cobra, full size and did 100mph on a test track in Oak Ridge TN. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXvIMRklWiM

First car I've ever seen with an E-Stop on the dashboard. I was told it was required by govt regulations.

"I also saw multi-axis CNC lathe/mills with 8-10 tool heads for under $60,000. These still cut metal but can automatically do things that the most skilled machinist with the highest end machines could not have done at all 30 years ago."


Martin sold one of their 'octo mills' to the Chinese at auction about 20 years ago. It was making propellers for submarines before it was auctioned off. Fortunately the software didn't go with it.
I got to watch a cool CNC center grinder grinding precision spindles for very large CNC lathes. 4 grinding heads. Two roughing two finishing. Mesmerizing.

John Henry

Kirk Parker said...

John, Rusty:

Plastic is OK, I guess, but what's the price point for a printer that can do sintered metal? (And how much is the "kiln" or whatever you call the furnace for fusing it post-printing?)

Rusty said...

I don't know, Kirk.
I'm getting a quote for an entry level model.

sodal ye said...

Blogger bagoh20 said...
"Like packwest, I've hired way over a thousand employees over the years, and I'd say my success rate is about 1 in 10. You don't have to be skilled, experienced, or even smart. I can teach you to do things that will make you well worth the cost as your rising wages, but I can't teach you drive, integrity, or how self-respect needs to be earned, at least not quickly enough for most. "

I've hired hundreds, if not thousands, over the years too. The success rate was probably over 70%. They were nearly all Chinese immigrants. Smart, hard working, loyal. It gave us an enormous competitive advantage over competing domestic manufacturers.

John said...

Kirk asked the price of a sintered metal printer. I don't know but I expect it is expensive.

The real question is what is the price compared to alternatives? For the turbine blades, for example, what is the cost of machining them from billet? Lots of wasted material. What is the cost of forging near net shape blades and machining them? Less wasted material but there is the cost of forging dies and forging operation.

Pretty expensive too. I suspect that the 3D/sintering is at least price competitive and probably more flexible.

I suspect that it will be a long time before 3D printing takes the place of other techniques like injection molding, for mass production of most things. Where it really shines is for making prototype parts really quickly and at low cost to verify fits and usability before committing to expensive manufacturing tooling.

John Henry

Kirk Parker said...

Rusty, John:

Thanks for the replies.

Regarding prototyping vs mass production--sure, but one of the (increasing?) trends in manufacturing is more customization, less mass production. I remember all the dust thrown in the air when the US sold its M-14 production equipment to Taiwan, though I don't really understand it since Springfield Armory continues to produce its M1A and I *guess* (w/o really knowing) that a simple change of sear and maybe another part or two and it would be back to its original full-auto configuration.

But what if that "tooling" had just been some CAM programs? No loss to us, then, right?

John said...

Rusty,

Thanks for the tip on Fusion 360. I'm going to see if I can get a free educator's copy. It looks like otherwise I'd have to buy it.

I've been using Sketchup (from Trimble) for 3D drawing for 4-5 years now and really like it but it is not optimized for 3D printing. Works pretty well but, as I said, not optimized for it.

I love my daVinci.

Related:

I was watching a Netflix video about Chryslers head designer. Very interesting guy. One of the most interesting parts was how they do the clay mockups. Instead of a bunch of sculptors carving clay, they have a big gantry robot over a lump of clay. The robot sculpts the clay automatically.

Perhaps Ann knows: Are artists now drawing their sculptures then sending them to job shops to be robotically machined? Seems like that would be a big deal.

John Henry

Rusty said...

John.
if you sign up fo Fusion 360 for the 30 day trial and then register with autodesk they'll extend your suscription to a year.
I'm so pleaed with it I think I'll just buy it after a year. I like the way it converts your drawing to an STL file that you send directly to the printer.

John said...

I'll try that, Rusty, if I can't get a free educator copy.

Sketchup lets me create STL files so there is no problem there. I also like Sketchup's drawing warehouse. Lots of machine component manufacturers have their catalogs there so I can import dimensionally accurate and editable components into my drawings.

Also, lots of Sketchup users have uploaded models to the warehouse so I can find a lot of things I need without having to withdraw them. Even if I can't find exactly what I need, I can often find something similar then edit. This saves the trouble of having to start from scratch.

Also lots of good tutorials on YouTube. There is one kid, I think about 14, who is a wizard and has a 40-50 part tutorial where he takes you from no knowledge at all to designing interior and exterior including furnishings, cabinetry, landscaping, of a Frank Lloyd Wright type house. One of the best video tutorials I've ever seen on any subject.

Do you have a Space Mouse? http://www.3dconnexion.com/products/spacemouse/spacemousewireless.html I went years without one and finally broke down last year and spent the bucks. Worth every penny. It is a joystick (sort of) which allows you to manipulate (zoom, pan, rotate etc) with one hand while you draw with the other with the conventional mouse.

I highly recommend. about $100 at Amazon

John Henry

Rusty said...

John'
Fusion 360 same same.
All the stuff available from Autodesk plus the entire Mcmaster_Carr catalog
I'm a big fan McMaster Carr.

Bad Lieutenant said...


Jeff Teal said...
No drug testing sounds fine.Until somebody runs a drill through his hand and the insurance company jacks your workmans comp.rates because the idiot on the drill press tested positive for THC.And don't tell me that it is the smokers risk because his wifey and kiddies will apply for "benefits".

6/9/17, 11:02 PM



I suspect, I admit I do not know but I feel confident, that all illegal drug use combined is not objectively as much of a performance issue as is alcohol abuse. Since drinking is as legal as church on Sunday, how do you protect yourself from a drunk, hungover or DTing machine operator?

Guildofcannonballs said...

Wish I woulda started over,
Thanks Him for gettin' older,
Not made promises unsober.

Dusty pictures on the wall,
Frameless memories all,
Surely soon some will fall,
And no more standing tall.

Wish I woulda started over,
Thanked Him for getting older,
Not made promises unsober.

The Bear said...

My Brother is in HR advising for a major WI law firm ... and he talks about how the biggest problem that most manufacturing and tech firms have in hiring workers is that even when they can find someone with the skills to do jobs like forging, welding, stamping, CNC operating, etc ... most of them can't pass a drug test.

Gretchen said...

Rich white liberals decided a while back that because they went to college, and wanted their kids to go to college that all students should aspire to be college-bound. Part of me thinks this is because liberals see college as an opportunity to control the narrative and indoctrinate students. All students should feel they can go to college if they have the aptitude and desire. I also believe that forcing students along this track is detrimental to many students. Because these do-gooders have made the idea of working with your hands taboo, students who should be learning basic bookkeeping skills are learning trig and students who should be learning how an engine works or how to read a metric ruler are suffering through chemistry.

I live in an area where 95% of HS grads go to college. My neighbor's kid went to a trade school to become a mechanic. He is 22, and is purchasing a condo. The least expensive condos in this area are around $250K. My son 23 year-old son and his friends who have computer science and engineering degrees (so not even the kids with the gender studies degrees), are self-supporting, but certainly don't have the ability to save up for a down payment, and all of them have no or modest (150/mo) student loans and roommates.

Todd said...

Late to the thread so likely neither of you will see this but...

Rusty and John H., have either of you tried OpenSCAD? It is a freeware program for modeling that generates STL files. Instead of being "drawing" based, it is more program based. You "instruct" the system as to what you want. You build up your 3D object from shape "primitives". You size them, rotate them, and you tell the system which shape overlaps are inclusive and which reductive. I have modeled some very detailed designs with this software.

I find it much easier to design this way than to "draw" stuff. An alternative...