Manufacturers in the United States are having a hard time recruiting middle-skilled workers to fill the growing demand for machinists, welders, computer-controlled machine operators and other key positions.
Business leaders talk about this recruitment problem at roundtables, conferences and in articles, debating whether the problem stems from the poor quality of the U.S. school system, the need to invest in job training and apprenticeship programs or a concern about laziness in the American workforce. The worker shortage becomes more alarming given emerging research that shows that manufacturers are expected to create 3.5 million jobs in the next 10 years, with two million of those potentially going unfilled.
A seemingly unrelated statistic may hold part of the answer to this recruitment dilemma. Despite the fact that women represent 51.4 percent of adults in the U.S., they hold only seven percent of middle-skilled manufacturing jobs.
Some employers and unions are taking action.
Employers that have contracts with the Ironworkers Union recently agreed to provide six months paid maternity leave to help recruit more women. A recent employer/union advertising campaign reads, “Want great maternity leave? Become an Ironworker.”
That same Ironworkers Union launched a new campaign, “Be that one guy” referring to male workers who make a special effort to challenge harassment when it happens and otherwise work to create a safe haven for women on the shop floor.
Read the full perspective at forbes.com.