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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Where Are We Going To Get Skilled Workers?

Cafe Hayek posted on a WSJ story about American manufacturers being unable to find enough skilled workers. Key quotes:

Difficulty in finding enough skilled workers is hampering the ability of many U.S. manufacturers to serve their customers.

Eighty-one percent say they face "moderate" or "severe" shortages of qualified workers, according to a survey by the National Association of Manufacturers and Deloitte Consulting LLP. More than half of manufacturers surveyed said 10% or more of their positions are empty for lack of the right candidates.

The shortfall is especially acute in skilled trades, for positions such as welders and specialized machinists.

Writes Don Boudreaux:

Paul Craig Roberts, you might recall, joined with Sen. Charles Schumer to lead the chorus of those predicting that the alleged out-of-date ("no-think") opposition to protectionism would doom America to third-world status.

Many readers of the Cafe Hayek blog posted on what to do. Here is my comment:

No one has mentioned the effect of minimum wage laws on the dearth of skilled workers. The only way for workers to get skills is through work. But it is reported tht employers are keeping spots empty because of the shortage. By hiring unskilled workers at no or below minimum wage levels, manufacturers can create their own apprentices to handle the work. But with such min wage laws, where is the incentive to train new workers? We do not need laws prohibiting free trade, immigration law changes, limits on out-sourcing or government jobs programs. We do not need to coerce morality upon businesses. We need to hire the unskilled to learn on the job. Wal-Mart does it despite the min wage laws. They get vilified by the press and others but serve as a model to American manufacturers.

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