Skills Gap Widens in Electronics Manufacturing: Page 2 of 2

A study by IPC finds that most electronics companies are having a hard time finding qualified production workers and skilled engineers.

a practical solution. “We did ask about the use of H-1B visas. What we learned it that for production the availability for H-1B workers minimal, but for engineering about 2.5% are H-1B visa holders,” said Starr. “That’s not a big number. When asked how they would be affected by a greater availability of H-1B visa holders, 72% said it would not significantly reduce their ability to recruit and retain employees.”

The National Association of Manufacturers and various universities are offering more manufacturing instruction in the curriculum for engineering and two-year programs. Plus, programs between the manufacturing industry and colleges are developing, particularly at the community college level. Yet Starr doesn’t see this as a near-term solution. “The programs can’t be build overnight,” said Starr. “I’ve hear about these programs in Colorado or other locations on a regular basis. A lot of colleges are beginning to get on board with this, but it will take time.”

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With labor costs increasing and robot costs declining, collaborative robots have become an alternative to human labor in some cases. They are becoming less expensive, more flexible, and increasingly filling a skills and cost niche. But are they the answer to the increasing need for manufacturing labor in the face of baby boomer retirements and government/regulation OKchanges?  Register today  for ATX East , June 13-15 in New York,  and find out the answer to this question and more!

 

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, 15 of them for Design News . Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years, he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper

Image courtesy of IPC.

Comments

One fact that may be driving the apparent shortage is the serious problem of so many folks, especially the younger ones are unable or unwilling to focus their attention for more than a few seconds, at best. And it is not just my theory, I have verified it in conversations with quite a few high school teachers. If they can't focus they can't learn.

If only there was a way for the employer to train the prospective employees... I mean, the ones that have experience right now had to start from somewhere. Employers these days want the employee to pay for their own training (college, etc). One reason may be, because the employer fears that if they train a new employee, they may leave for another, higher-paying, company.

This is what happens when corporations value more a mere High School education plus an Industry Certification than a Ph.D. from a top Engineering School. They are victims of their own greed.

This is what happens when you use automatic software to choose your prospective employee. I managed people for years and did not rely on H.R. to figure out which resumes to send to me after the ones they did send (who's school and skills looked great on paper), did not work out. There's a lot of valuable information in a resume that tells one if that person has the ability to write a report, organize their thoughts, complete a project....skills over and above the obvious engineering experience

It's rare that HR can recognize and evaluate transferrable skills. If you don't list enough of the right buzzwords then your resume is tossed. A buddy recently experienced this - an engineer working in manufacturing for the tobacco industry for fifteen years, he answered an advertisement for a manufacturing engineering at a heavy machinery plant. Despite meeting all of their stated requirements in PLCs and motor drives, they told him his "inexperience" disqualified him.

Before I retired from electronics engineering at the close of 1994, I'd specialized in automated production test equipment for electronics manufacturers. Back then, I saw a lack of appropriately-skilled engineers to replace me. Apparently, the situation has greatly worsened, and universities give no more than a backgrounding on the basics. The only solution I can see is the resumption of apprenticeship programs, and I urge manufacturers to consider this very seriously.

Here's part of the problem: "entry-level electrical engineers have been hardest to find" followed by "Insufficient experience". Employers expect entry-level candidates to already have lots of experience. It doesn't work that way. What these companies are really saying is that they want candidates with years of experience but who are willing to accept starting level wages. Even if they find such people, they won't stay for that deal.

Its a combination of things. 1)Manufacturing jobs leaving the US. 2) Certain schools closing (ex: ITT Technical Institute). Certain areas don't have technical schools in a demographic area which creates "voids". 3) Manufacturing companies expect hired techs to be "out of the box ready". This is coming from management members who couldn't ID a resistor from a capacitor if their families lives depended on it. These manufacturing companies don't focus on training their employees to a higher leve

Some companies may not be "reinvesting" in their employees. This would be a win-win for both employee & company. This also helps with employee retention.

There is a glut of good talent (layoffs, grads, H1b). If a company was really losing money, it would quickly fill and train people (pre-mid 1980's). What employers do is cherry pick someone who can replace two people (99+ "ands" piano roll ads) , can work cheaper (H1b), or can hit the ground running (Starship Trooper orbital drop) to replace an old employee with years of company evolved OJT. Some job openings relisted for years "unfilled" and yet sit waiting after getting 10K+ resumes. Sad^2.

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