Where Have All The Workers Gone

Cait Murphy in Inc. Magazine:

WorkersBut try running a 95-year-old electronics connector manufacturer in the threesquare-mile Westchester County village. Or hiring for it. There are almost certainly more hedge-fund managers in Mount Kisco than there are tool and die makers—and Gretchen Zierick has no use for the Wall-Streeters. But she says she can’t even get the time to talk with students about manufacturing careers, because, well, every kid is above average, as Garrison Keillor would say, and supposed to go to college. “There just aren’t people out there with the skills we need, or the interest in acquiring them,” says the president of Zierick Manufacturing Corporation. She’s begun an informal apprenticeship, contacted a local community college, and is working with temp agencies. Even so, she’s short three tool and die makers.

What’s a 60-employee family-owned company to do?

Join the club, Gretchen Zierick. Business owners everywhere, it seems, complain they can’t find good help these days. It’s a staple of conversation from talk radio to chats over the donuts and coffee at Chamber meetings.

That concern is reflected in numerous recent surveys of businesses—big and small. Almost four in 10 U.S. employers told Manpower, a staffing company, that they were having difficulty filling jobs. The feeling is particularly acute at small and midsize companies. In a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study, 53 percent of leaders at smaller businesses said they faced a “very or fairly major challenge in recruiting nonmanagerial employees.”

And in a survey of Inc. 5000 CEOs last year, 76 percent said that finding qualified people was a major problem.

What’s really interesting about all this is that it’s not just the usual suspects who are complaining about the lack of good workers. You know: software companies that want to hire programmers from India. It turns out that good old manufacturers are having trouble finding excellent employees.

So, what is going on? And why is this happening?

Read the rest here.