MORRIS: Wanted: 10 million skilled workers
Our nation is facing a perplexing dichotomy today. Millions of Americans can’t find jobs - some have even given up looking - yet employers are saying they can’t find the skilled workers they need to fill critical positions.
To some degree, our current unemployment problem is cyclical. To a considerable extent, however, I believe it is structural. This mismatch between abilities and available jobs is a clear sign that yesterday’s skills don’t meet the requirements of today’s workplaces.
From the crews erecting the new World Trade Center in New York City to hospital technicians and aircraft mechanics, America relies on its skilled workers to provide essential services.
In our business, we couldn’t keep electricity flowing to our 5.3 million customers without skilled workers such as line mechanics and power plant operators. When a power plant needs maintenance, we call upon highly skilled individuals such as electricians, pipefitters, boilermakers and dozens of critical disciplines.
Particularly problematic is the fact that many of our nation’s skilled workers are members of the baby boom generation and are rapidly approaching retirement; some have retired already. According to a recent survey by Manpower, skilled trades rank No. 1 in the nation for “difficulty of filling jobs due to the lack of talent.”