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Up Topic Welding Industry / General Welding Discussion / The BLS projections for welding
- - By brightblue (**) Date 06-13-2008 13:46
What do you guys think about these predictions? Do you think they're close enough to being realistic/accurate or far off the mark?

It's kind of interesting when they say the outlook for growth is 'slower than average' but 'opportunities are excellent'.

Companies will continue outsourcing any of the many different jobs that they reasonably can IMHO, regardless if they are 'white collar' or 'blue collar'. Now, if a certain type of welding CAN be outsourced ( someone mentioned in another thread about welding jobs sent to Mexico ) then that leaves those welders moving laterally into other types of welding. Which means entry level welders are going to be hard pressed to find work don't you think?

Also, will unions suffer if companies try to pull in foreign workers? I'm not out there but have seen posts that indicate many foreign workers would like to get in here and curious if companies are becoming interested in that. I don't blame the foreign worker for that but corporate nature being about the bottom line, will natural citizen welders find themselves displaced by welders who will work much cheaper? Are those of you working out there seeing any of this come to pass?
Parent - - By OBEWAN (***) Date 06-13-2008 14:05
I see outsourcing playing a big role at my employer. They keep trying to force more and more work to our plant in Mexico.  Our US welders make $17-$25 an hour for aerospace TIG work.  The Mexican welders make $4 an hour.  The Mexican welders don't have all the same certs though and in general have poor quality work.  When they get a Mexican welder fully trained and certified, they usually leave to get a better job near or across the border for $10 an hour.  We have the same problem with our Thailand welders.  For all the problems involved, we are better off keeping the work stateside in my opinion.  We even have to pay thousands in bribes ("expediting fees") to get the work shipped across the border in a few hours (as opposed to a few weeks).  What happened to NAFTA?  I think entry level wages for welders are far too low.  My first welding job in a heavy equipment factory in 1979 (after one 3 credit stick weld class in college) paid the equivalent of $19 an hour in today's money.  That is several dollars over the current mean according to the gov't numbers.
Parent - By Jenn (***) Date 06-13-2008 14:17
OBEWAN , is it me, or is the outlook good though for new welders good though because of all of the average age of current welders being so high. They are all retiring, and desperately needing to be replaced? So although those numbers are projected to stay similar, the average age of the welder will go down ???

As well, with gas prices and the size of things that are welded, you can't really ship things around as easily? just another thought....


Parent - - By js55 (*****) Date 06-13-2008 14:18
You said it true there. I had the exact same problem. I worked for a company that had a plant in Monterrey Mexico. The labor was dirt cheap. but we were constantly going down there to solve recurring problems (not that I minded going to Monterrey mind you), to the poin that management was seriously considering closing the plant.I don't know if they actually did because I left that company, but if not I'm sure the problems still exist. In the end, pay more, pay american, get it done right, and the first time.
Parent - - By brightblue (**) Date 06-13-2008 14:49
I totally agree with you about that. BUT, you have so many analysts and managers whose first job is to save the company money. They look at the triple constraint and almost always 'budget' carries the most weight.

I think the rush to outsourcing or poorer labor is going to be felt much more deeply, in terms of quality, down the road but not right now. Only the more skilled workers see it, and teh customers of course. I mean, most execs are looking at PowerPoint presentations delivered by number crunchers. Unless it's critical work, quality can become negotiable if you can crash the schedule and save money. 'Passable' becomes acceptable. 'Exceptional' is icing on the cake but not always a priority.

Thank you for your insights, keep them coming :)
Parent - By js55 (*****) Date 06-13-2008 15:11
I also think the problem is that most execs come from the ranks of sales or engineering. Disciplines that generally know squat about manufacturing. Septin wat thay red in books.
It has been my experience that execs who have the greatest proclviity to oppose the cheap labor mirage are fellas that once got their hands dirty.
Parent - - By Lawrence (*****) Date 06-13-2008 15:53 Edited 06-13-2008 15:57
Don't be so quick to blame all of the outsourcing on cigar smoking fat cats with bad backs from their fat wallets.

Thats way too easy

A significant reason for outsourcing is that *qualified* American technical workers cannot be found in sufficient numbers and that manufacturers simply cannot fill production quotas with the staffing they have with the skill level of employees that are available in their region.

American quality is better.. But it is not nearly as good as it should be.

According to the National Tooling and Machining Association, 40% of member companies are turning away business due to lack of skilled welders.

According to National Association of Manufacturers, 60% of manufacturers reject half of all applicants as unqualified because of the lack of basic skills.

I think the above two statistics have every bit as much bering on outsourcing as does greed.

If parents, schools and business don't take Career and Technical Education (CTE) to heart and integrate career pathways starting at primary school curriculum, this trend will continue to get worse and worse.

The good news is that there are several movements in place and some good data results comming in already to prove that integration of CTE into core subjects (Math, communicatins etc) has a profound effect in reducing drop out rates, improving entry level compentency, and bringing students into post secondary education who traditionally, because of poverty or culture, never thought it an option.

and yes Js........ The best management and engineers are almost always the ones who have a pair of steel toed boots in the closet.
Parent - By brightblue (**) Date 06-14-2008 14:07
Lawrence, I agree that skilled trades are downplayed by education but education tends to, particularly colleges, respond to corporate demands. In a sense, they are reaping what they've sown, so my sympathy for business only goes so far LOL I don't think of it as some dark, conspiratorial plot but rather they act in collusion together. Most skilled tradesmen don't need six years of theory and lab time and tons of research grants to understand what they need to do or become good at it. Companies are pressed by potential investors because they look at how many degreed employees exist. Where I'm at, bio-pharm is big business and there are tons of educational programs to enter that field at every level, but maybe 50 openings a year. The colleges gain students trying to break into that field. I mean, hypothetically a college sees a formula like: 1,000 students x $30,000 in fees. I think if there was as much demand to go into Applied Sciences, colleges might be more active in soliciting high school students. The companies don't care if colleges spit out a majority of students who can't get work in the field if they know that they'll have at least a part of that pool to draw from if need be.

I don't see management or business goals as inherently evil, or greed in general as evil. They are what they are. But I do think employees should always remember that and keep an eye on the checks and balances. Business IS willing to let go of skilled for unskilled workers in favor of the bottom line. Like in 2003, the massive layoffs of skilled, degreed IT folks not because they were unqualified, but because overseas labor was cheaper. Or when Verizon roughed up employees health and 401K bene's. And instead of "Look for the Union Label" songs we tend to have seen Unions and their members in the media for a long time now,  played up to be lazy, semi-mobsters.  Business will, in some way, always try to threaten unions and/or worker rights because they have to pay out on them. I know I've been a bit all over the map here and I don't know what the answers are specifically, but I just feel like if business goals CAN run unchecked by everyone but themselves, they will.
Parent - By Ringo (***) Date 06-13-2008 17:42
I went thru a downsizing years ago when they started sending our work to Mexico.They had a big problem though when the final product got to the customer and several welds were cracked big enough to sling a cat thru.The rework cost was considerably more than the savings on the front end.We just have better welders over here.
Parent - By DaveBoyer (*****) Date 06-14-2008 04:25
  The statistics in the mentioned link put all welders in the same box. I think the slow growth prediction comes from the greater portion of semi skilled production welding jobs that will continue to be outsourced. While some of You have mentioned that some companies are or are trying to outsource skilled trades welding jobs, these are harder to outsource.

    I have tried to repetedly make the distinction between semi skilled welding jobs and skilled trades welding jobs, the odds for quality employment always favour the skilled tradesmen.
Up Topic Welding Industry / General Welding Discussion / The BLS projections for welding

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