Many Automation Professionals Remain Jobless

Machine Elves Needed: Why Is It So Hard to Hire Qualified Individuals?

By Katherine Bonfante

Can you imagine how hard it would be for St. Nicholas to hire workers in this economy? We know that the country is still battling the tough economy the 2009 recession left us, and even though some jobs have been created, there are still many professionals left out in the cold, jobless.

The U.S. Department of Labor reported Oct. 19 that the national jobless rate decreased to 7.8% from August and was 1.2 percentage points lower than in September 2011. Still, we need more jobs created — now.

The holiday season is just a few weeks away, and we can only hope that there will be some opportunity for many individuals to get a job and get back to the workforce — even if it means just for a few weeks.

Yet, with so many skilled professionals out there needing jobs, why is it so hard to hire qualified individuals? Managing Editor Aaron Hand wrote about just this in our Machine Builder Forum (MBF). Hand says that whenever he visits an industrial company, he always hears about the difficulty the company faces when trying to find and hire the skilled workers it needs.

In his blog entry titled "Building a Strong Staff Could Come Down to Keeping a Strong Staff," Hand talked about meeting Gene Wood, Lenze America's director of operations, at the company's opening of its newest production facility in Glendale Heights, Ill. Wood told Hand and other visitors that for them, the hiring process was the most difficult thing they had to do in preparation for the opening.

Wood said even though they found some great workers with the needed skills, hiring them wasn't easy. Many job candidates didn't even bother to show up for their first interviews.

Why do you think that qualified individuals are failing to show up to job interviews? Could it be because the pay offered is not what unemployed skilled workers believe they deserve? It seems that corporate America is no longer willing to pay as much as qualified professionals need and deserve. If companies today were to offer competitive pay, it wouldn't be so difficult for them to fulfill job openings and help the unemployment rate across the country drop a few more points.

One MBF participant, "mrwood," agrees. He responded to Hand's blog entry, saying, "Try offering more than $1.00/hr (sarcasm)… Companies are more than willing to pay executives and top managers obscene sums of money, and these guys add little or no value to society. Maybe if these same companies paid the folks who do add value to society — engineers, factory workers, etc. — a living wage, they could attract and keep the talent."

With Christmas just around the corner, I hope there won't be a shortage of toys at the stores. If Santa needs qualified employees, I hope he is willing to pay what these individuals — elves or not — deserve.

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