Factories aren’t what they used to be and the modern manufacturer needs workers with modern skills.
Manufacturing has bounced back since the great recession and Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Barry Kennedy says it’s changed.
“The manufacturing picture of old, if you will, where people see an assembly line and people just adding a part here and there is really not the manufacturing facility of today,” according to Kennedy.
Nebraska is home to approximately 2,700 manufacturers, many outside the metropolitan areas of Lincoln and Omaha, supporting some of the smaller cities in the state. Those companies employ 120,000 Nebraskans, about 10% of the workforce.
That workforce increasingly needs a higher skill level.
Reinke Manufacturing Company is an example. Reinke makes center-pivot irrigation systems in the small community of Deshler, located in southern Nebraska.
Reinke President and CEO Chris Roth says the factory in Deshler needs workers for fabrication, welding, engineering, and purchasing.
“So, they have to be very educated as far as math. They really have to understand that. A lot of sciences, because we do a lot of metallurgy,” Roth says. “So, they need to understand those kinds of things. And, again, they have to be able to run those computers. So, they have to have some pretty good computer skills.”
Manufacturers have been scrambling to recruit those skilled workers, according to both Roth and Kennedy. Pay has increased with the skill level and many of those manufacturers now try to lure more young workers with paychecks that can reach $55,000 annually.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]