What’s uncool about a $100,000 factory job? These days not much. In fact, factory jobs — once considered back-breaking and low-paying — have become high-tech and high-salaried.
Still young people don’t get it, say factory owners, who can’t find enough skilled workers.
“When I was an apprentice in the late ’70s, kids were dying to get into manufacturing. There were plenty of factory jobs,” said Joe Sedlak, a machinist who owns the Chesapeake Machine Company in Baltimore. “There are jobs for the taking today. But kids don’t want them.”
Stereotypes about factory jobs still persist. And the media isn’t helping, factory owners complain.
“On TV, kids don’t see many positive images of manufacturing,” said Bill Mach, president of Mach Mold, a manufacturer of plastics molds in Benton Harbor, Mich. A show will have a scene with “an old dark building with a bird flying out of it, and something bad happens.”
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w From The US Department of Labor H-1B Program
The H-1B program applies to employers seeking to hire nonimmigrant aliens as workers in specialty occupations or as fashion models of distinguished merit and ability.
A specialty occupation is one that requires the application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and the attainment of at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. The intent of the H-1B provisions is to help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the temporary employment of qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the United States.
The law establishes certain standards in order to protect similarly employed U.S. workers from being adversely affected by the employment of the nonimmigrant workers, as well as to protect the H-1B nonimmigrant workers. Employers must attest to the Department of Labor that they will pay wages to the H-1B nonimmigrant workers that are at least equal to the actual wage paid by the employer to other workers with similar experience and qualifications for the job in question, or the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment – whichever is greater.
American manufacturers importing workers
U.S. manufacturers, frustrated by a shortage of skilled American factory workers, are going abroad to find them.
Business for factories has surged recently, creating a huge demand for machinists, tool and die makers, computer-controlled machine programmers and operators.
“These jobs are the backbone of manufacturing,” said Gardner Carrick, senior director with the Manufacturing Institute. “These are good quality middle-class jobs that Americans should be training for.”
The United States is experiencing a shrinking pipeline of manufacturing talent, said James Wall, deputy director of the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.
“It’s been in the making for years,” he said. Factories didn’t feel the labor pinch as much when manufacturing was in a slump. But the latest “Made in USA” resurgence has them scrambling.
Wall said some manufacturers have been relying on foreign workers to fill the gaps through H-1B visas. H-1B Program
The popular H-1B program allows high-skilled foreign workers to be employed in the United States for a maximum duration of six years. Each year, the government issues a quota of new H-1B work visa applications, and all industries compete against the quota. Last year’s cap was set at 65,000.
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