Wisconsin manufacturing industry struggling to fill jobs

President's focus of Kenosha visit was on jobs
Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-18 19:15:41-04

President Donald Trump's visit to Kenosha Tuesday in part focused on Wisconsin's manufacturing industry, where many jobs exist, but employers struggle to find the right candidates.

The industry is still bouncing back from the recession but job opportunities continue to grow. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the manufacturing industry in Wisconsin employs more than 470,000 people. That's up from 460,000 two years ago.

At Waukesha Metal Products, they're always looking to fill skilled positions like engineers and welders. As a company, they do outreach in local schools to teach children about the opportunities in manufacturing.

"If you can show them that manufacturing isn’t something to be looked down upon, it's a noble profession," said Ryan Payne, who works in business development at Waukesha Metal Products. "We can keep that interest going, [the industry's] obviously not going anywhere."

Manufacturing is the single largest industry in Wisconsin, in terms of employment, according to the pro-business group Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

At MATC, they're finding students have an array of options when it comes to employment.

"Everybody's looking for more people and they can't find them," said Chris Chomicki, an instructor at MATC.

He says he recently found 1,400 job openings posted online in the Milwaukee area for his students graduating this year in the machining field.

But he says the industry is changing. As more companies rely on technology, manufacturing jobs aren't working at an assembly line anymore. They require higher skills and typically some kind of education.

"As the industry changes, they have to be able to adapt and change with it as well," he said. "They have to be educating themselves and taking themselves to the next level."

The average salary for a manufacturing job in Wisconsin is nearly $70,000, according to The National Association of Manufacturers.

"It's not hard to find an opportunity, especially in Wisconsin when it comes to manufacturing," said Payne.

Students interested in enrolling at MATC can visit the website for more information.


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