The labor shortage of skilled tradesmen in pipefitting, welding, electrical and machinists is well-documented throughout the United States. Older generations of skilled tradesmen are entering retirement much faster than they can be replaced. One statistic indicates that over 50 percent of skilled-trade workers in the U.S. are 50 years old and older, and nearly 20 percent are over 60.
At Optimation, we serve the manufacturing industries. Our goal has been to be a single source of labor for industrial and manufacturing projects. We employ skilled workers with the trades necessary to meet the needs of that market.
Much of our work is fabrication of new equipment and facilities. This can be planned and coordinated and scheduled. There is another facet of what we do that is maintenance and emergency response and repair. We try to support both needs for our clients. When a steam line breaks during the weekend on a brutally cold winter day, our crews may get the call to come and repair the leak even it if means working round the clock in the coldest weather. When there is an explosion in a chemical plant and rebuild of critical infrastructure is necessary, it can be our crews who are marshaled to work multiple shifts and make the repairs.
Since we employ skilled journeymen in a variety of industrial trades it is fast, efficient and cost effective to marshal one of our teams. Our clients only need to make a single phone call to get things underway. We know our clients value this service and we, at Optimation, know the value of the talented individuals who perform it.
With the resurgence of US manufacturing and increased demands for these services, there is growing shortage of qualified journeymen. Optimation, like many other firms, is finding it more difficult to recruit and retain staff. Retirements continue to reduce the ranks. One way we are overcoming this and growing our ranks is through our apprenticeship program. We are hiring larger and more frequent apprenticeship classes so that new graduates can replace retirees.
While companies in many parts of the country are having difficulty finding qualified apprenticeship candidates, we have seen outstanding response to our job postings. Additionally, we have been very impressed with the desire, drive, talent and performance of the new generation. As may be the case in many professions, young people are often inspired by a role model who precedes them in their career. We have found this to be true in our case. A high percentage of our apprentices have a parent, uncle, neighbor or other relative who was a skilled trade worker. They understand the value of a career in the trades.
There is a big push at the state and national level to encourage the next generation to see the value of a career in skilled trades. Scholarships are offered by a number of public organizations. Among others encouraging these careers is Mike Rowe, former host of “Dirty Jobs,” who has expressed huge concern for the growing skills gap. He has a created a nonprofit foundation for just this purpose. He calls it mikeroweWORKS. His foundation channels scholarship funds to students pursuing a career in the skilled trades. For many, this can be a much better path than a four-year college degree and extensive student debt. At Optimation we encourage the trades and would be happy to talk to any young man or woman considering an industrial trade as their path to the future.