Technicians and skilled workers are indispensable. Skilled workers contribute to the economic development and societal progress of our country. While the majority of Americans push their kids to go to college, and this is not a bad idea, we need skilled workers.
Interesting story: The big silicon producer, TSMC, Taiwan Silicon, has made public that their Arizona factory has been delayed because of a shortage of skilled workers. The company went on to say that the opening would likely be pushed back a year, until 2025, partly because of a lack of skills and experience among U.S. workers. To get things back on track, the company is trying to get visas for as many as 500 Taiwanese technicians to assist with construction and training on the site, where nearly 12,000 people work each day.¹ We should not be looking to other countries for workers! There are over 6 million Americans that are currently unemployed. We need to encourage our high schoolers to become skilled workers.
There should be no shame in not going to college. I’m not sure when the stigma (among some people) started around not going to college. That’s the first thing someone asks a student when they discover they are graduating high school, “Oh, where are you going to college?” What’s wrong in saying, “What are your plans after graduation?”
In the 1980s we saw a shift in employment. Not only did we see a decade of job growth, we also saw an industry shift. Employment grew, but its numbers were uneven; three fourths of the increase was in services and retail, while manufacturing actually lost jobs, and saw a decline in employment.² Bottom line, manufacturing jobs in the United States declined considerably. Jobs in the industry were looked down upon, it was a “dirty job,” and a job that didn’t pay well. People considered workers in that field to be maybe of lower socio-economic status or not upwardly mobile. Furthermore, these jobs had a bad reputation due to concerns about job stability, automation, and even globalization. But true then, and still true today, these jobs are crucial for economies, the providing of valuable skills, and contributing to industrial growth.
Manufacturing jobs have evolved, and we need to evoke a passion in students about filling these skilled worker vacancies. Yes, efforts are being made to modernize and make manufacturing more sustainable, but we need to appeal to the people who can actually fill these positions. We need to make a big push, especially in our Title 1 schools, to pursue training in the “blue-collar” professions where wonderful careers await.
Manufacturing jobs today can offer several benefits. While definitely once downplayed, today these skilled jobs pay well and offer a great sense of job security. The jobs are offering competitive wages—especially when overtime pay and benefits are factored in. They also provide stable employment opportunities; we have now seen there is a consistent demand for production workers. Many manufacturing jobs come with great benefits including paid time off and healthcare, and another perk is the diverse opportunity these manufacturing jobs can offer. These jobs encompass various industries, and offer a wide range of job options from welding to assembly to quality control. If this is your niche, there is a job out there for you! Additionally, they get to use many of the buzzwords of today as their skills increase (often courtesy of the company paying for this training) in the use of robotics, automation, and even artificial intelligence used to optimize processes.
Bottom line, there are many advantages to exploring a skilled worker job. You’re not tethered to a cell phone, you don’t have to work ridiculous hours, and you’re not working all the time that you’re at home. When you leave work, you leave work, and it’s pretty much a forty-hour-a-week job. Oftentimes, it still pays six figures and it may not take as much school or school debt to get it.
So, start earlier, make nearly as much, and have an actual life. There is still a huge need, and it is driving a strong need for technicians and all of the spotlight is on these jobs!
¹https://www.businessinsider.com/tsmc-phoenix-arizona-chip-factory-taiwan-semiconductor-management-safety-workers-2023-8, accessed September 6, 2023.
²https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1990/09/Art1full.pdf, accessed September 7, 2023.