Shortage of skilled manufacturing workers up for debate

Capital News Service
LANSING — Despite growing concern over a skilled labor shortage in Michigan’s manufacturing industry, a Kalamazoo-based research company suggests employment data doesn’t support the hyped fears. Many manufacturers in the state have expressed difficulties in finding skilled laborers to fit their needs and claim there is a talent shortage, especially in middle-skill positions such as engineers, welders, machinists and technicians. Groups such as the Michigan Manufacturers Association are prioritizing initiatives with manufacturers, community colleges and career service agencies to address the shortage, association director of human resource policy Delaney McKinley said. But according to George Erickeck, a senior regional analyst at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, that perception isn’t necessarily in line with publically available workforce data. In an attempt to pinpoint the root of Michigan’s supposed skilled labor shortage, the institute used U.S. Census data to compile information about employment statistics for machinists in seven Midwest states, Erickeck said.