Manufacturers say there is a critical shortage of trained workers in the United States. In South Carolina, a German company is training high school students in skilled labor through apprenticeships.


NYT, November 30th, 2013

Category: Employment, Video

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8 Responses to “How to Create Skilled Workers”

  1. RW says:

    Skilled labor can be acquired from abroad at less cost so the putative shortage of skills (and willing workers) in the USA was a useful myth but the ability of a German firm to train relatively unskilled workers in an apprenticeship system (as well as insisting those workers be represented by a union) is going to put more than one monkey wrench in that myth machine. Be interesting to watch.

    • rd says:

      The Jpanese auto industry moved into the uneducated, non-union South just 25 years after the Civil Rights was signed and built an entire auto dustry from scratch. The North American content of a car is vritually indistnguishable between Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford, and Chrysler.

      In general, most work knowledge is learned on the job. It is a major indictment of the short-term perspective of American corporate management that they are generally unwilling to invest in their wor force. It would be a shame if we will have to rely on the foreign companies to come in and train our workers.

      • bigsteve says:

        And to add insult to injury some of our best management experts many decades ago taught those companies how to do it. They were ignored here and adored there. “Competency is in the eye of the beholder” This was the full flower of the Peter Principle. Stupid is as stupid does.

  2. bigsteve says:

    United States employers had gotten spoiled by the baby boom generation. Having the ability to cherry pick a work force from a large labor pool of desperate and well trained workers made training an unnecessary cost. The generation following them is smaller and the talent pool is smaller. Thirty years ago every one hired where I worked was a star employee. Some recent hires still are but the majority of the new hires are not. It takes more people to turn out less work now and managers have to be much smarter. For instance one of the jobs I use to do I did alone. Now it takes three people. My company (a power and water utility) was smarter than most to over hire over the last few years so people like me can mentor and train our replacements before we retire. Those companies which have not changed their paradigm are shortly in for a world of trouble.

  3. Blissex says:

    «Manufacturers say there is a critical shortage of trained workers in the United States»

    Repeating acritically the well-studied propaganda of one side is just helping them to spread it. Of course employer *always* say that there is a critical shortage of workers of any type, because that is the premise to get government help to drive down wages via more outsourcing an immigration.

    And *technically* they are right in a wide sense: as long as wages are above mere survival level and workers don’t have to work every waking hour and then some to survive then there is a scarcity of labor force, because the marginal cost of labor is the barely-above-starvation wage.

    «In South Carolina, a German company is training high school students in skilled labor through apprenticeships»

    That may be simply because German companies export their home labour standards.

    But if there were really a “critical shortage of trained workers in the United States” wouldn’t USA based companies raise the wages they offer to signal that borrowing to train for those skills is something workers should do? Or shouldn’t they invest in that training themselves? Or shouldn’t they invest in lobbying the government to raise taxes for funding that training?

  4. 4whatitsworth says:

    Sadly the ability to hire, fire, and train efficiently has become a lost art in the United States.
    I think that if you were to take a poll of the people who really need workplace skills you would find that they generally resent managers telling them what to do, and genuinely believe that they are taken advantage of when paying their dues doing the necessary menial labor in a typical organization. This culture leads to a shortage of skilled workers and a high demand for those who have well-honed skills. Companies who hire and train well and can’t advance are cherry picked by recruiters which of course reduces their desire to invest in marketable training.

    Organizations that do offer meaningful training such as McDonald’s (Teaching “cleanliness service and value”) and Walmart (Teaching “High Volume Low Cost”) are vilified for turning a profit BTW Walmart makes 4% on their work and McDonald’s around 20%. One could argue that learning how to clean, cook, stack, greet and work together are low cost useless skills however we have to start somewhere and many lack these basics. For those who want to argue that there is no opportunity at these companies take a look at the new Walmart CEO who started as a summer intern probably making minimum wage or something very close to that.

  5. muysbfu_9481 says:

    …it would be nice to see this practice gain traction in the us, the “go to high school so you can go to college” track isn’t for everyone, it’s due for a bit of evolution…also ny times, it’s ā-ken, not ī-ken…

  6. theexpertisin says:

    The Private sector to the rescue, again.