There’s Complaints About the Skills Gap Again. But There Are Also Solutions.

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

The latest jobs numbers were unveiled on Friday, and the news for manufacturing was pretty good. About 36,000 new jobs were created in June, according to the Labor Department — and roughly 285,000 factory jobs have been added over the past year.

(Notably, the fabricated metals industry saw 7,000 new jobs in June. This suggests that fears about the steel tariffs, now in their fourth month, might have been a tad overblown. But we digress.)

Anyway, the overall economy saw 213,000 new jobs last month, another consistent month of growth. With the economy nearing full employment, fears are rising that the “U.S. labor shortage is reaching a critical point.”

“Business’ number one problem is finding qualified workers. At the current pace of job growth, if sustained, this problem is set to get much worse,” Moody’s Analytics economist Mark Zandi told CNBC. “These labor shortages will only intensify across all industries and company sizes.”

Luckily for businesses, another CNBC story published this week on this exact issue might just contain one solution to this problem.

A CNBC Global CFO Council survey found that 84 percent of companies say they have had trouble in the past year filling skilled positions. Perhaps not surprisingly, the No. 1 thing corporations care about when selecting new worksites is finding workers with the right set of skills. They also consider local infrastructure and the cost of doing business in a new location.

But those same companies also do not prioritize the quality of life for those valuable skilled workers, including things like education and cost of living, which rank at the bottom of their list.

So basically, these companies want to find people who have the exact skill set they need, in a location that is perfect for them, but do not take into account how their decisions will impact the very people they need to run their business. Companies then wonder why they can’t find skilled people to work for them.

And there’s another big issue floating around that’s also likely to be playing a role.

Pressure is mounting on companies to be more proactive in recruiting workers, including by raising wages, which have been relatively stagnant. As CNBC reports:

“Economists expect that employers are going to have to start doing more to entice workers, likely through pay raises, training and other incentives.”

Although the “skills gap” is now being discussed across the larger economy, it’s been talked about in manufacturing circles for years. Here at AAM, we’ve always argued that while there is a legitimate need to institute public policy to properly train and recruit people to help fill advanced manufacturing jobs, companies themselves also must step up and play an active role.

Efforts such as apprenticeship and workforce development programs are critical, of course. But employers also must treat the people whose skill sets they desperately need with respect. That includes things like paying a fair wage and taking into account the overall quality of life of their staff.

***

Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work