A Wasted Generation?

Four Businesspersons

Even as American manufacturing jobs increase for the 12th consecutive month, economists are worrying about youth unemployment. 5.8 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 25 are neither at work nor in school. That’s about 16% — more than twice the national unemployment rate.

A recent study calculated that this unemployment costs the United States $25 billion a year in taxes not collected and welfare benefits paid out. The same study pointed out that government programs focusing on youth employment have been cut by about $1 billion each year this century. The savings don’t add up to even one year of the cost.

A number of reasons are suggested for the problem, from the lack of apprenticeships to the recession’s sending older college graduates into the job market to compete for entry-level jobs that used to be the province of younger workers.

The skills gap is another part of the problem. The loss of apprenticeship programs and less focus on job readiness in schools — not to mention the speed at which job requirements change, compared with education — have led to a mismatch between the available jobs and the people needing work. The Economist reports that nearly half of employers in the U.S. and in other countries with youth unemployment issues say that they can’t find workers with the skills needed for their entry-level jobs. Middle sized companies, they say, have an average of 13 entry level positions they can’t fill.

The cost to the nation is not only in current lost tax revenues. People who are unemployed right now will probably earn less over their lifetimes. There’s also the waste of talent to consider.

And yet, as journalists lament over the lack of $15,000 a year barista jobs for new grads, $40,000 a year entry-level machinist jobs go unfilled.

American youth also don’t seem to want jobs in manufacturing, according to the Washington Post. We hear that a lot. The Post suggests that manufacturing has a bad image, that young people are discouraged from entering the field by their parents, who remember the widespread loss of U.S. manufacturing jobs that put many skilled workers out of work, and that wages in manufacturing haven’t risen the way they have in other fields.

Manufacturers are beginning to reach out to the schools in their areas, but more needs to be done to encourage young people to consider — and prepare for — work in manufacturing.

In the meantime, young workers probably won’t be able to help when your Indramat components need troubleshooting. Call us; we’re experienced. In fact, we’re experts with legacy Rexroth Indramat components. We offer phone support, factory repair, and emergency replacement units.

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