Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin mocked a new Obama-endorsed job training initiative, saying it was part of "the usual federal job training boondoggle" that only serves to "redistribute unemployment." However, many employers in multiple industries have said they need more trained applicants for their skilled labor positions.
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Obama Endorsed "Manufacturing Skills Credentialing" Program
Obama Endorsed Efforts To Get 500,000 Community College Students Credentialed For Manufacturing Jobs. During a speech at Northern Virginia Community College, Obama endorsed jobs training initiatives at community colleges and called on Congress to reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act of 1998:
So we've got to do everything we can, everything in our power, to strengthen and rebuild the middle class. We've got to be able to test new ideas, pull people together, and throw everything we've got at this challenge. So we're going to have to have all hands on deck.
And that's why, last year, we brought together major companies and community colleges to launch a new campaign, led by business leaders from across the country, called Skills for America. And the idea was simple. If we could match up schools and businesses, we could create pipelines right from the classroom to the office or the factory floor. This would help workers find better jobs, and it would help companies find the highly educated and highly trained people that they need in order to prosper and to remain competitive.
So today, we're announcing several new commitments by the private sector, colleges, and the National Association of Manufacturers, to help make these partnerships a reality. Through these efforts, we're going to make it possible for 500,000 community college students -- half a million community college students -- to get industry-accepted credentials for manufacturing jobs that companies across America are looking to fill. Because the irony is even though a lot of folks are looking for work, there are a lot of companies that are actually also looking for skilled workers. There's a mismatch that we can close. And this partnership is a great way to do it.
So if you're a company looking to hire, you'll know exactly what kind of training went into a specific degree. If you're considering attending a community college, you'll be able to know that the diploma you earn will be valuable when you hit the job market. [Remarks by the President at a Skills for America's Future Manufacturing Event, 6/8/11, via WhiteHouse.gov]
Fox & Friends: Job Training Initiative Is A "Boondoggle"
From the July 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: So there he is, Michelle, announcing a job training program to create jobs, retrain people. Isn't that what the stimulus was supposed to do? We were going to create all these job, people were going to work for years. That didn't pan out. Now this?
MALKIN: Yes, the same old tired, trite response to economic crisis, which is to grow government even more and grow the usual federal jobs training boondoggle. Since the '70s, these things have turned out to be nothing but make-work jobs that redistribute unemployment, and if you actually scrutinize the way that the stimulus job training programs have worked over the last couple of years, what you'll see is people who get trained for jobs that don't exist. Heck of a job, Obama.
DOOCY: No kidding. And think of how much we saw some of those facts in the last year or so, some of those jobs, each one, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to create and to work for a little while, but they don't exist anymore.
MALKIN: Right. And in some cases, and I've scrutinized some of these job training programs over the last couple of years, what you have is most -- what he's trying to do is pander to the youth demographic. But the summer youth job training programs in one case, I believe it was philadelphia, were used to pay young people to lobby for more job training money! [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/9/11]
But Employers And Industry Leaders Say They Need More Trained Applicants
WSJ: "Manufacturers are scrambling to find enough skilled workers." From the May 6 edition of The Wall Street Journal:
U.S. manufacturing companies, long known for layoffs and shipping jobs overseas, now find themselves in a very different position: scrambling for scarce talent at home.
Large and small manufacturers of everything from machine tools to chemicals are scouring for potential hires in high schools, community colleges and the military. They are poaching from one another, retraining people who used to have white-collar jobs, and in some cases even hiring former prisoners who learned machinist skills behind bars.
Even with unemployment near 9%, manufacturers are struggling to find enough skilled workers because of a confluence of three trends.
First, after falling for more than a decade, the number of U.S. manufacturing jobs is growing modestly, with manufacturers adding 25,000 workers in April, the seventh straight month of gains, according to payroll firm Automatic Data Processing Inc. and consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers. The Labor Department's jobs report on Friday is expected to show moderate employment growth in the overall economy.
Second, baby-boomer retirements are starting to sap factories of their most experienced workers. An estimated 2.7 million U.S. manufacturing employees, or nearly a quarter of the total, are 55 or older.
Third, the U.S. education system isn't turning out enough people with the math and science skills needed to operate and repair sophisticated computer-controlled factory equipment, jobs that often pay $50,000 to $80,000 a year, plus benefits. Manufacturers say parents and guidance counselors discourage bright kids from even considering careers in manufacturing. [The Wall Street Journal, 5/6/11]
Plastics Trade Publication: "Concerns About Finding Skilled Workers" Are Stifling Industry Recovery. From Plastics News:
After years of cutbacks, layoffs and scraping for work, business is finally picking up for the tooling industry, but early signs of recovery are bringing with them concerns about finding skilled workers to handle more work today and training a future workforce.
At the same time, fears the economy could slow again are keeping many firms from plunging head first into new hiring.
"Everyone's a little gun-shy," said Gary Chastain, consulting and training manager for RJG Inc. "When the big downturn happened, people cut back, and they've continued to do as much as possible with as few employees as possible."
Chastain, who runs training sessions focused on tooling for the Traverse City-based consulting company, said in a May 31 telephone interview that he is busier than he has been in years, running on-site classes for firms that cannot afford to take employees off the job for classroom training. Both mold-making companies and workers need to fine-tune capabilities to keep up with the increasing demands on the tooling industry from original equipment manufacturers and molders alike.
"Most companies are [anorexic] because everyone is afraid to staff up," he said.
And just behind the concerns about current staffing and a shortage of skilled workers are long-term worries about where the next generation of toolmakers will come from. [Plastics News, 6/6/11]
President Of The Association For Manufacturing Technology: "Public-Private Collaboration" Plays "Crucial Role" In Revitalizing Industry. From American Machinist:
The Association For Manufacturing Technology's President Douglas K. Woods welcomed the presidential endorsement. "For more than two years now, AMT has emphasized the crucial role of public-private collaboration between industry, government and schools in meeting the demands of the new manufacturing workplace," Woods stated.
AMT, which represented the manufacturing technology industry, has long argued for improvements in skills training for the U.S. labor pool. Adoption of a skills certification program was one recommendation of a three-part "strategy for re-invigorating American manufacturing" that AMT introduced last year.
That agenda, "The Manufacturing Mandate," called for developing "a capable 21st century smartforce"; increasing R&D; and "enhancing global competitiveness by leveling the playing field for American businesses" as a prescription for strengthening domestic manufacturing and reviving economic growth.
"I hope the President doesn't stop here," Woods said. "More needs to be done to support this country's manufacturers. I would like to see the Administration further expand the role of MEPs (Manufacturing Extension Partnerships, local efforts by specific industry groups to extend skills training to their areas) to become the new Manufacturing Innovation Centers, a one-stop resource for manufacturers to grow their businesses." [American Machinist, 6/9/11]
WSJ: Companies Suffering A Shortage Of Applicants Qualified For "More Technical Positions." From the February 7 edition of The Wall Street Journal:
Overall, companies have slowly begun to hire again. In January, employers added 36,000 jobs, according to the Labor Department. The number of job openings has grown more rapidly. According to the Conference Board Inc., a nonprofit research organization, there were 4.3 million advertised job openings in January, 16% more than a year ago.
Nationwide, there were about four unemployed people for every job opening posted online in December, according to the Conference Board. But disparities underlie the overall rate. Finding highly qualified applicants for more technical positions is proving a challenge for some companies. Many are winding up changing their business strategy or settling for less-than-perfect candidates. [The Wall Street Journal, 2/7/11]