Global Fastener News

1996 FIN – How to Find & Retain Manufacturing Workers

December 10
00:00 2014


Editor’s Note:  The last Perspective column (see February 13, 1996, article below) summarized an NBC Nightly News report on a shortage of manufacturing workers in the U.S.  Tom McCall Executive Search, which specializes in the fastener industry, was quoted in the national news program.  In this column, McCall offers advice to manufacturers on finding and retaining employees.
• Check references. “Many employers think they know people,” Tom McCall shuddered. “You don’t. Check references.”
• Spend money on minor aptitude tests for mechanical skills. “Some employees are trainable and some aren’t,” McCall pointed out. “Learn to identify those who aren’t. It is worth spending money on training those who are trainable.”
• “Start training programs,” Jodi Stein, general manager of McCall’s Olympia Fields, IL, firm advised. “Go into high schools to find future employees.”
Stein lamented that “so many manufacturers are hell bent on getting experienced help. They want trained help now. They are not willing to make the investment to train someone. Think ahead a bit. Start training now instead of waiting six months until you are desperate.”
In high schools :there are a lot of kids that aren’t college boud and can be lured by $40,000 to $60,000 (annual pay) with benefits. They would be way ahead of the kid in college.”
Stein cited the Tech Prep program started in 1990 by six manufacturers, including a fastener firm, Elco/Textron. Two other fastener firms, Rockford Products and Specialty Screw, have joined the program.
The Tech Prep program, modeled after German youth apprenticeships, exposes high-school juniors and seniors to different areas of manufacturing. Future fastener makers earn money working and learning. Elco has used students in its tool & die area, heading and roll threading and on screw machines.
Steve Schinzer, Elco’s manager of training and development, said the goal is to let students know they have alternatives to working at fast-food outlets while still in school and which will provide career opportunities.
In the first two years, Elco had nine students and six were eventually offered employment. The fresh-out-of-school workers begin a three-year apprenticeship leading to journeyman cards. This year Schinzer expects to hire five.

• McCall said current employees like overtime paychecks. “A lot of guys will work 60 hours a week,” McCall finds.
Stein said one of the first questions applicants ask is about guaranteed overtime and she has known new empoyees to quit because they were promised OT and there wasn’t any.
Nine out of 10 skilled workers want overtime, she finds.

• Pay attention to the physical atmosphere of the workplace. “Build a comfortable place to work,” McCall advised. “It’s better than money.”
• Some employees think they can enticee a veteran worker from another company while paying less than what they earn now, Stein said. “The employers think they are taking a risk on the employees and want the employee to prove himself again on the new job. But the employee is taking a risk too. Most are to going to move for less money.”
• Watch your managers too. “Managers may need training in how to tddreat the help,” McCall said. “It is money well spent.”
• “Remember, one good worker is a prize,” McCall advised.  ©1996/2014 Fastener Industry News.
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1996 FIN � Manufacturers are Manufacturing Jobs

February 13, 1996 FIN – Editor’s Note:  Tom McCall & Associates, a Chicago-based fastener executive recruiting firm specializing in the fastener industry, and Do Right Screw Corp. were featured on the Saturday, January 27, 1996, NBC Nightly News on the lack of skilled help for manufacturers.
The segment was promoted with the phrase, “How America’s manufacturers are manufacturing jobs” and introduced as “The Blue Collar Bonanza, the shortage of skilled workers has become so short in this country that the factories are hiring head hunters.”
“From small machine shops the universal cry is ‘help, help, help’ to giant auto plants is ‘help, help, help!’” Rick Gudell of Chicago Manufacturing Institute was quoted.
“No matter which sector of skilled manufactures you turn to, the universal cry is that we do’t have enough skilled, technical people.”
Reporter Linda Vester said 56% of manufacturers reported they are having trouble finding qualified people. “The manufacturing sector is in dire need of the best and the brightest,” Vester said.
Ed Nowak of Do Right Screw Corp. in Chicago, needs to hire four to six screw machinists to make precision fooled fasteners for automakers ad other heavy industry, Vester reported.  Nowak can pay $15.50 an hour plus benefits, “but he can not find skilled workers.”
Nowak said he finds that potential manufacturing employees “would rather be working without oil, without shop clothes and be in professional ranks.”
Vester said McCall’s firm “has found white collar don’t sell nearly as well as blue collar.”
Beverly Schoeling said the “manufacturers are coming to us, begging for our help in finding skilled labor, which we cannot provide to them because there are not enough people out there for it.”
“In recent years many people in the country were predicting manufacturing was dying. The only way to gain a secure future was by going to college and going white collar,” Vester reported. “Fewer people wanted to go to vocational schools.”

But that is changing. Enrollment is growing at vocational schools and the Big Three automakers are looking for employees “who can master math and computers.”
Ford, Chrysler and General Motors will hire about 200,000 blue collar employees by the year 2003 to replace 250,000 retiring workers.
Vester quoted one Chrysler line veteran who plans to retire in nine months because the computers and technology coming on the assembly line. That “sort of scares me” and thus “it’s time for me to go,” the employee told NBC.
“His replacement can’t be so techno phobic on a line where they build one Jeep Cherokee every 52 seconds,” Vester said.
She interviewed a new employee who is going back to school to study computers because “I think most of all what the company is looking for is people who are willing to learn.”
MIT economic professor Lester Thurow said a lack of skilled workers will result in U.S. manufacturing jobs “simply be locate somewhere else in the world.”
The bottom line for American manufacturers is a challenge to American workers. Shape up or some good paying jobs will be shipped out,” Vester concluded.  ©1996/2014 Fastener Industry News.
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