Supply and demand: The resource crunch

How many times have you heard about the resource crunch in the U.S. and Western economies recently? It's a hot topic these days. Almost every one of my clients is screaming that they cannot get the people they require. But the answers are right in front of us. Introduce apprenticeships, offer more money, improve conditions, look at real profit-sharing arrangements and so on ... if companies are really hurting then there are many (MANY) options out there. Let's face it, if the statistics in the post on refining capacity are anywhere near true then there is a dramatic opportunity for your company to earn more money, and therefore pay you more. What about women? I posted recently on the level of participation by women in the workforce, yet maintenance and reliability tragically underutilizes this abundant resource. But nobody does anything right? Why? Because they aren't really hurting ... not enough to take proactive action. In the meantime the situation has created a great opportunity for us, the talented few who know how to swing a wrench. Have a look at this graph of wages. This is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for May 2007; no doubt it has changed by now.  In fact, if the feeling in industry is like what I see all over the world then wages should be going up to match the scarcity of supply. So, do you feel overworked and underappreciated? Well, move then. You have the opportunity and the motivation. Do you find logging to be dangerous? Well, utilities pays maintenance (on average) $25,000 more. Incentive enough? Nope? OK, mining pays $15,000 more. Starting to get the picture? There is a shortage of resources, but it is not your fault. In fact, it is to your significant advantage. But if you are going to play that game then you need to know a little bit more. You need to know who is likely to be hiring. Check the next graph below. On average, utilities companies seem to pay the best for their maintenance technicians, but they have a lot less work than other sectors. The principal employers of maintenance services seem to be manufacturers (naturally) and retail outlets (surprisingly). Federal, state and local governments would other big hiring organizations, and they seem to pay all right on average also. Work has changed. We need to change also. Instead of thinking about what you do, think about the value that your employer will get by having you on the payroll. If you deliver real value, and this can be translated into cash, then companies will line up to pay good money for your services.