After recent surveys showed parents held negative views about blue-collar work, manufacturers are holding with parent’s night events at high schools, hoping the outreach to the parents will help them win over a younger generation of potential workers, reports the Wall Street Journal.
There are more than 400,000 unfilled positions in the sector. Low unemployment combined with anxieties about the manufacturing have contributed to a shortage.
Industry experts say blue-collar jobs are stereotyped as dirty or grimy, but many modern-day positions require involve technical expertise in operating big machinery.
Many Americans are shunning blue-collar work, believing it is low-paying and physically grueling labor. That and the emphasis society places on obtaining a college degree are contributing to a manufacturing worker shortage. However, in the coming years, new manufacturing jobs are expected to make up a significant portion of the nation's overall job growth; last month alone, the sector added 25,000 jobs.
These jobs don’t require workers with bachelor's degrees, but ones that have some college-level or technical school education with substantial specialized training depending on the industry.
Finding qualified applicants to fill the more than 400,000 open manufacturing positions will require colleges and businesses teaming up to deliver well-rounded workforce training programs. This is the space that community colleges have traditionally owned, so four-year colleges should continue to experiment with unbundling their offerings to serve this growing league of learners.
Given the expense of higher education, some students would be better off pursuing a low-cost credential that takes less than four years to obtain, but still opens the door to well-paying manufacturing work. A 2017 Demos report found that nearly 40 percent of student-loan borrowers are either in default or more than 90 days past due on their payments. Better information is needed so that students and their parents know the full range of education options and job prospects available to them.