If you were to type the word “manufacturing” into a web search once per year, over the last six years, you would find it comes up quite a bit, but under highly varying contexts. About six years ago, the talk was all about recession, job losses, and a failing economy.

In the past few months to a year, prospects are looking much brighter. The headlines often include phrases such as “manufacturing renaissance” and words like “reshoring” and “comeback”. This is, of course, good news. But blink your eyes, and it seems that the next hot topic regarding manufacturing is the skilled labor shortage. Many are asking, how is this possible? Where did all the people who lost their jobs and needed work go?

As it turns out, there seems to be an entire generation of people, many baby boomers and post-baby boomers, who got laid off, and then chose to retire instead of returning to the workforce when things got better. This has left a very apparent skilled labor shortage. According to a recent article in Forbes, “If the skills shortage is debatable today…it likely won’t be at some point in the future.”

Not only does this make it difficult for companies to get the job done, but it drives up wages, both for new hires and those on staff who employers want to keep. Larger manufacturers with broader needs are often able to counter or help the situation by partnering with local programs and schools, but for companies like ours, this isn’t always an option. We have a need for highly skilled fabricators who can handle many types of welding and metal thicknesses, and we definitely have seen a shortage of this type of worker.

Luckily, we have been able to handle this growth in business and manufacturing, and are still providing our customers with the same quality and service as always, but we do hope that soon enough more people will choose to enter the workforce with trade labor skills that are so desperately needed in the industry.