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Skilled Labor Shortage

Updated on July 10, 2014

Skilled Labor Shortage Will Cost US Manufacturers $7.4 Billion

The American workforce pool has a shortage of skilled labor, and not enough people are training to fill these advertised positions. Thus, there is abundant opportunity in training programs and employment openings in skilled labor occupations. Such labor shortages are often cyclical, but this time it's going to be pretty serious.

Look for the US Federal Government to support these initiatives with funding for training programs, etc.; especially if the change in the White House in 2008 includes a party change. There is already quite a move to transform skilled jobs into green (eco-friendly) skilled occupations, and that may become a big push in employment and training circles in January 2009. Government subsidies for green training and jobs would back that up.

Manufacturers will face that shortage of skilled labor before 2012 and continue to suffer from it. The costs to manufacturers will be very high.

A recent study into this US workforce problem was performed by Advanced Technology Services, Inc. (ATS) and Nielsen Entertainment's Consumer Products Group.


$4,700,000,000 to be Lost

According to this study of 94 senior manufacturing executives, the skilled-labor shortage will cost manufacturers an average $50 million each. Nationally, that is $4,700,000,000.

One compounding factor is that a full 40% of the skilled labor force is set to retire over the next five years, 2007 - 2012. There are not enough younger people entering the skilled labor training and occupations to full this void. This loss of workforce is what 2/3 of the manufacturers surveyed say will lose them an average of $50 million each.

However, this is not the worst part of the situation. Of the 94 executives surveyed, 46% of them (all of them having $1 billion in revenue) say that they will be hurt for more, financially.

They say they will each lose an average of over $100 million in the next five years, by 2012.

Ball Bearings
Ball Bearings | Source

Worker Retention is Important

Worker retention is a problem faced by all companies in all industry fields in America.

Worker retention is actually the topic of many masters' theses and PhD dissertations in this decade. Employers throughout the US are asking how they can attract and keep the best workers.

There are consulting corporations looking into this matter as well and offering help to employers at a price. The coming worker shortage will cost employers money, one way or another.

Liquid Valve
Liquid Valve
Automobile Engine
Automobile Engine

The five-year forecasting timeframe for cost predictions is based on information and standard statistical/accounting practices of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Association of Manufacturers. Most of the state labor market forecasts from the US BLS are scaled for 2006 - 2014 or 2004 - 2012.

Already, many US jobs are being outsourced to other countries. Undocumented immigrants are working in some of these jobs in the country. Some are even receiving skilled training. The advancing skilled-worker shortage is frightening to US manufacturers. The Baby Boomers will have largely retired by 2012. Some of them will have a few years left to work. Others will be forced by economics to return to work, but likely not in skilled trades - probably in service and hospitality jobs. There still won't be enough trained people to fill the jobs that are vacated by the retirees. At the same time, some skilled workers are returning to school and accepting other employment. A few are starting their own businesses.

Manufacturer need to actively recruit and educate a new generation of factory workers and improve the public image of factory work and skilled workers.

Having suffered declines and setbacks before, the automotive manufacturing sector will be hurt most of all. This has been a gradually decline since the 1950s and is spurred on by alternative fuel and transport developments.

Ball bearing and roller bearing makers with be hit the next hardest with costs, followed by metal valve manufacturers, then engine/transmission manufacturers.


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Thanks for that link, Mr. Yeagley. It should be very useful.

    • profile image

      Richard Yeagley 6 years ago

      Another example of the decimation of the blue collar worker and ethos. I just produced a documentary titled, The Tradesmen: Making an Art of Work which discusses some of the cultural and occupational shifts that have taken place in America in recent years.

      Mike Rowe of Discovery Channel's, Dirty Jobs is featured in three brief segments in the documentary. Chapter One on the educational DVD is titled, "We Have Waged a War on Work": a title taken from Mike's thought provoking commentary.

      I am sure that most everyone agrees that "we have waged a war on work", but that the opinions for why vary. What cultural, social, and/or economic forces does the forum participants feel are the reasons for this sentiment against work? This may explain why a skills shortage exists.

      To see what the filmmaker of the documentary suggests, you can visit the website (listed below):

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 7 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      For a couple of friends: Two search engines gather the job openings listed all across the Internet - globally - from Recruiters, Staffing and Temp-to-perm agencies, individual companies' career websites, Internet Job Boards, many government sites; anywhere jobs are posted. These are: and

      I am not connected with these companies, I just know that you would he able to find skilled employment positions through using their search capabilities in many nations, including USA. You can check the trend up or down conencted to your occupations through their "Trends" tab low on the left sidebar for "Simply" and at the top for Indeed.

      At the same time, manufacturing jobs are in other fields besides auto mfg these days in 2010 - many in agriculture in parts of the West and Southwest and in "green oil", etc. Check your job title on the search engines where you want to work - you may even have to move to find a job opening.

      Go to your County Jobs offices and insist on help with job search and placement and re-training, which is THEIR job, especially since many have received Stimulus Dollars specifically to do so - and will receive more.

      And, a negative attitude and foul language really won't help you locate work. Best wishes.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 10 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Maybe so. If these jobs can be turned over into the so-called "green" industries, it can help. I don't how far eco-friendly industry will reach, though.

    • Daniel Greenfield profile image

      Daniel Greenfield 10 years ago

      very interesting, I guess the economy is going to be headed for a bumpy ride in '08