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FEATURING GCAMP PARTNER FELSOMAT:Manufacturing's big challenge: Finding skilled and interested workers
Felsomat, a German manufacturer that makes automation equipment for the automotive industry, has a talent problem that's become a growth problem. Plans to triple the size of its Schaumburg facility, to 100,000 square feet, have stalled in part because it is difficult to find skilled technicians to design, build and service the automated systems that have allowed U.S. carmakers to produce more than ever before with fewer people, said Richard Gilchrist, chairman of Felsomat USA.
Boeing is well aware of the risks: Shortages of skilled workers from a smaller, mid-1990s exodus contributed to a factory meltdown that halted production of its cash cow, the 737. So earlier this year, the manufacturer carefully structured a voluntary layoff aimed at retirement-age workers, staggering the departures of 1,057 machinists to avoid massive disruptions.
For years many manufacturers have been working under incorrect information and/or interpretation of federal regulations regarding youth 16-17 years old working in a manufacturing environment. This DOL Child labor publication (bulletin 101) provides information regarding what power-driven metal forming machines are allowable. GCAMP and TMA recently were visited by OSHA and the Wage and Hour Division of the DOL who provided clarification to this important topic. We will hold a seminar on the topic in early 2017 and re-invite these government officials to further explain the existing laws.