For years the skills and maintenance crises were deemed a non-issue and not news-worthy of mainstream media outlets. With the explosion of news coverage before the election and after with the looming fiscal cliff, crises are now dinner-time conversations. Below are a few excerpts of coverage. The greatest thing that all of this coverage is creating, is discussion, debate and action. More technical programs are being developed, more funding sources, scholarships, internships and apprenticeship programs are in development. We hope this continues to be the case to help mitigate the boomer tsunami (the gradual exodus of the boomer generation) and the growth of advanced manufacturing and automation systems which require higher level skilled workers. Debate over skills gap splits along employer/employee lines 11/28/2012 http://www.wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=285057 MILWAUKEE -- Employers, workers and the educational system were each cited as contributors to Wisconsin's so-called "skills gap" during a panel discussion Tuesday. Mequon business owner Mary Isbister, one of the panelists, pointed to parents, schools and workers themselves for her long-standing difficulty in finding dedicated, enthusiastic manufacturing employees. But a representative of the staffing company ManpowerGroup admonished employers for "being way too picky," having low wages, and for failing to solve barriers for workers, such as a lack of transportation and child care. "I could have doubled my business last year if I could have found enough of the right people," said Mary Isbister, president of GenMet metal fabricating in Mequon, during a panel discussion Tuesday on the so-called "skills gap" between unfilled jobs and unemployed workers. Skills Gap Myth Star Tribune http://www.startribune.com/business/164935926.html?refer=y "If there is a shortage of something, you would expect the price of that something to increase over time," said Steve Hine, director of labor market information for the state of Minnesota. "It doesn't matter if that's skilled welders, or the market for beer." Instead, the average hourly wage for a welder in Minnesota grew just $1 between 2005 and 2011, to $17 per hour, according to Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development data. Take inflation into account, and that's a pay cut. And welders in Minnesota make more, on average, than they do in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, all states where firms complain about a skills gap. Average inflation-adjusted pay for machinists has risen only 9 cents per hour in the past seven years in Minnesota. Hourly wages for factory assemblers and fabricators have risen just 10 cents, and pay for computer-controlled machine operators has fallen $1.61 per hour. Still, many employers say the skills gap is real and is holding back the economic recovery. While Minnesota manufacturers have added 11,600 jobs since the beginning of February, the people who run these companies say hiring is a struggle. A January survey by Enterprise Minnesota showed 26 percent believe a shortage of qualified workers will affect their bottom line. And 58 percent said attracting qualified candidates had become either somewhat or very difficult. Even challenges on the bottom of the world: Skills crisis: New Zealand Government tells students to target skill shortages http://www.nzherald.co.nz/education/news/article.cfm?c_id=35&objectid=10849313 High percentages of students in their final year of study are planning to seek employment in industries where there are already too many workers and not enough jobs. The Government says their expectations need to be adjusted if we want to avoid growing the demand for skilled workers in areas such as engineering and IT. Direction shouldn't be left up to the "all-knowing career advisers" to influence students and their families, according to the Minister for Tertiary Education, skills and employment, Steven Joyce. The Graduate Longitudinal Study asked students from New Zealand's eight universities what areas they would seek employment in if doing so within the next two years. The top two industries were education and training, 21.9 per cent, and health care and medical, 16 per cent - areas where there is a strong demand for skilled workers, according to Immigration New Zealand's Long Term Skill Shortage List.