Tags: American | Manufacturers | Import | Workers

CNNMoney: American Manufacturers Importing Workers

By Michael Kling   |   Tuesday, 06 Mar 2012 01:25 PM

U.S. manufacturers, frustrated by the lack of qualified factory workers, are going abroad to recruit qualified workers like machinists, tool and die makers, computer-controlled machine programmers and operators, reports CNNMoney.

"These jobs are the backbone of manufacturing. These are good quality middle-class jobs that Americans should be training for," Gardner Carrick, senior director with the Manufacturing Institute, told CNNMoney.

The number of skilled factory workers has been falling for years. The shortage might get worse since many qualified workers are approaching retirement.

The lack of qualified specialists wasn't as noticeable when orders were down during the recession, but demand for goods is returning.

So many U.S. manufacturers are now hiring foreign workers with H-1B visas, according to CNNMoney. Those visas allow foreigners to work in the US for up to six years. The government caps the number of H-1B visas yearly, and employers must show that they cannot find willing and qualified American workers.

While the high-tech industry is the biggest user of the program, manufacturers are now taking a shine to it, even though it is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. The number of foreigners with the visas increased from 34,830 in 2010 to 39,551, according to CNNMoney.

Yet the visas cannot be the solution to America's skill shortage, Carrick told CNNMoney. The United States must train its own workforce for those jobs.

The Labor Department, CNNMoney reports, is offering training grants in effort to discourage manufacturers from using the program.

The Manufacturing Institute reports a persistent yet growing gap between skills manufacturers need and skills workers have. In its 2011 Skills Gap survey, 67 percent of respondents reported a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers and 56 percent said they expect the shortage to grow worse in the next three to five years. Also, 5 percent of current jobs at manufacturers surveyed are unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates.

High unemployment, the institute says, is not making it easier to fill positions, particularly in skilled production areas.

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2012-25-06
 

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