Make the Job Worth it and They Will Come

I don’t subscribe to many blogs.  However, Keith Campbell’s is one of them.  His ‘On the Edge Blog’ strikes a chord with me.  Growing up in Pittsburgh, I am a strong believer in the power of American manufacturing, diminished as it is.  Keith focuses much of his attention on the gap between the technical skills required to support the ever more automated world of manufacturing in the US and the ability of our educational system to provide those skills.

In the past, Keith has provided evidence of the severity of the skills gap problem in the US.  In a recent post, he cited some of the causes:

  • Decreased exposure of students to high tech manufacturing.
  • A need for counseling to help our veterans translate their technical skills to the industrial equivalent.
  • Managers who do not understand the value and importance of employee experience in manufacturing technology.
  • Manufacturers that don’t understand the need for constant training to keep up with underlying technology changes.
  • Educators not inclined to establish the necessary training programs due to the relatively high initial investment.
  • Manufacturers’ and educators’ inability to reach a balance between one-size-fits-all and totally customized solutions.

In one of the responses to Keith’s post, ‘West Michigan E…’ boiled it down nicely.  He stated, ‘Make the job worth it and they will come. Kids that are smart enough to be engineers and associated occupations find out the reward-to-effort the jobs require and decide they would do better with an MBA and sell real estate, insurance, or stocks, If the rewards were more and the hours less more students would continue the STEM path.’  Sounds like Econ 101; the free market at work.

Further, to Keith’s point, managers need to value and pay for the skills and experience necessary to operate and maintain the very equipment that they are counting on to improve their bottom line.  Unfortunately, when we hire our manufacturing ‘managers’ based solely on their education and don’t promote from within the ranks, they can rely only on what they learned in school.  It’s admittedly been a while, but I don’t recall anywhere in my MBA coursework that the investment in human capital necessary to support the investment in capital equipment was emphasized.  I learned it during many long days on the floor.

To see more of what Keith has to say, you can visit


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