You may have heard about the national shortage of welders. Well, the problem is real and likelyto get worse before it gets better.
But don’t worry, here at Streamline Industries we have a top-notch team of welders to handle all your custom parts.
Demand for welders has increased in recent years as the manufacturing industry continues to grow, but supply has been steadily shrinking for decades. In fact, the number of welders in the US has decreased 40% since its peak in the late 80s.
So what happened?
First of all, the manufacturing industry has changed. The majority of welders 30 years ago
worked on an assembly line without much hope of advancement.
Those jobs have largely been replaced by computers now, or else outsourced. Secondly, the lifestyles and values of the whole nation have changed. High school trade programs, once common, have been phased out in favor of college preparation courses. The number of students entering trade school plummeted as university enrollment skyrocketed, a trend that continues today, contributing to an alarming shortage of welders nationwide.
Compounding the problem is the fact that the average American welder is over 50, nearing retirement age. The American Welding Society projects that there will be about 300,000 unfilled welding positions by 2020.
According to Gardner Carrick, vice president for strategic initiatives at the Manufacturing Institute, “We’re dealing with a lost generation. For 20 years we stopped feeding young people into the trades, and now we’re scrambling to catch up.”
Since the 2005 recession, the manufacturing industry has recovered rapidly, and created new roles for welders. These days, instead doing repetitive work that is easily automated, welders work in the field on pipelines, or in a machine shop like ours, fabricating custom machine parts for industries such as oil and gas or aerospace.
Where do we go from here?
The shortage of skilled welders may offer hope to one often overlooked demographic: prisoners.
Recent changes to state laws grant prisoners in Georgia access to the equipment needed to learn the trade and become certified welders. This benefits the prisoners by allowing them to easily find work upon release, as well as the employer, who is able to fill a vacant role with a skilled welder.
Welders in training spend more time in a classroom than you may imagine. Many modern welders operate finicky CNC machines, which require a high level of precision to operate correctly. The slightest deviation can cause disastrous crashes that bring production to a halt and cost thousands of dollars in damage to the machine.
Jim Hoyt of the North American Tool Corp. describes a common his interview process:
“I’ll write a few numbers down, mostly numbers with decimal points, because that’s what we use in manufacturing, and have them add them or subtract them, or divide by two,” he says.
Unfortunately, many applicants don’t get any farther than that.
This disconnect between popular perception and reality is part of the problem. Would-be welders coming out of high school with the math skills needed to go straight into welding classes assume that hands-on work is not for them, and go to college instead.
Many of the students who are enrolling in welding school did not take trigonometry or algebra in school. To help their students catch up, many welding schools are now offering remedial math classes.
Our team of highly skilled welders offers custom solutions for all your welding needs. As with all Streamline Industries services, we offer top quality workmanship and attention to detail on every job that we undertake.