A recent blog post by Editor-in-Chief Dan Davis was the subject of last week's "Fabricating Update" e-newsletter. This post—Manufacturing on the rise; pay not so much—dealt with an issue (starting wages) that might be hampering hiring efforts and stressed the need for employers to do a better job of positioning their employment opportunities as the first steps in a fulfilling career.
We asked newsletter subscribers to share their thoughts about this topic and received responses from readers both in the U.S. and other parts of the world that indicate this is a global issue. Respondents from all over the world share the same whinges.
Several readers from Canada responded. One from Alberta said, "I've worked in various manufacturing facilities starting in 1984. I had been self-employed previously so I feel I understand both sides of the fence in the operation of a business
"You hear of companies that lowball their pay and are making millions in profits.
"You hear of companies locking out employees or closing down operations.
"I've always asked for and believed in three things as an employee/employer:
Pay me well
Treat me well
Give me hours
"If one of these requirements isn't met, I’m looking for a new job.
"I'm a firm believer in paying a worker what he is worth. By paying employees well you get better qualified individuals and you can be pickier in your hiring practices.
"By treating employees well, you make them feel appreciated (which is worth a lot) and then they care about what happens to the company they work for. The company makes money; the employee makes money.
"By doing this, word does get out to the work force that you are a fair employer, and the potential new and qualified employees will come."
"As they say, 'build it and they will come.'"
"Another reader from Alberta said, "Our company does not compete in the local 'oil patch'; we are a worldwide company and compete globally. Having said that, our wages are lower than the standard around Alberta. Some things we do (to attract workers) are offer excellent benefits and registered retired savings plan (RRSP) matching. We also have a retention bonus program that offers five percent of the worker's gross wage every six months. We still struggle to attract new workers that we desperately need. Young workers in this neck of the woods are drawn in by short-term jobs offering more money. We have years' worth of work , but that is not what attracts the youth today, dollars do. Only when the 'local' jobs dry up will we have people knocking on our doors, and that is not anytime soon."
A U.S. reader from Arizona said, "I have a very small general contracting company located in Northern Arizona on the Utah border. I have recently switched to working part-time as a welder/fabricator, as times are tough in the construction industry. I have not had to take a day off due to 'no work.'
"The problem with every failing company in my eyes is the lack of hard work. I have seen many companies come and go, and the reason they don't hold up is because workers want 40 hours a week and either will not work overtime, or their employers cannot afford or will not pay the overtime requirements.
"People need to spend their valuable work time accomplishing the task at hand instead of crying about the 'poor economy' to their co-workers. I am happy to pay $20 per hour for a laborer if they give me a true 8, 10, or even sometimes 16-hour day. But, when 5 p. m. comes rolling in, they are ready to call it a day. I am by no means a slave driver; one day we could work an easy 6 to 7 hours, and the next we may have a large concrete job that requires 12 to 16 hours."
We also heard from an educator in Australia who had me reaching for a dictionary to see if the word whinge was indeed a word (Word on my computer doesn’t recognize it), and if so, what does it mean?
Thomas said, "Don’t think that you guys in the U.S. are Robinson Caruso with a huge downturn in manufacturing. This issue is widespread in the Western world. I believe that the blame lies squarely with manufacturers who are all about the buck and don’t give a hoot about the little guy.
"I think that they view ordinary men as mere peasants—something to use and abuse. The politicians are people who could not manage a snail race (good at sending us to war though). These guys appear to be oblivious to what is going on in the world around them (unless it makes them look first-class). I am not sure how the pollies in the U.S. manage issues, but our Australian (government) could not organize sex in a brothel, or to put it nicely, they can stuff up boiling although they do know how to tax it well enough.
"Had my whinge till next time."
And for those who want to know, whinge is a word that, when used as a noun, as it is in Thomas’ statement, means complaint. We may have both a job shortage and a qualified worker shortage, but we have no shortage of whinges.
Custom fabricating shops see all kinds of jobs, large and small. Flexibility is important. But when a small job results in multiple changes that require a revised quote and the customer isn’t happy, it might be better to let the job go. Yes, you need to please customers, but you also need to make money.
The FABRICATOR is North America's leading magazine for the metal forming and fabricating industry. The magazine delivers the news, technical articles, and case histories that enable fabricators to do their jobs more efficiently. The FABRICATOR has served the industry since 1971.