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Rob S. October 7th, 2017 11:47 PM

The growing problem of a lack of Maintenace Technicians. Have you had any success ?
Good Evening ,

I am sure everybody is having the same problem across the nation, finding Industrial Maintenace Technians. Have you folks had any success ? If so , which method has worked for you ? Are community colleges helping in recruiting ? Are you also seeing a lack of work ethic ? Our Human Resource Manager does a great job , but I really do not think she understands the major problem we have in this nation concerning industrial automation support. I really do not think our county , state , federal government leaders understand or our school systems. Have you come across any good articles explaining this problem , so I can pass along to our human resouce manager. If you could post some links that would be great.

I think Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs is the only one talking about this.

Thanks so much for your help.

lostcontrol October 7th, 2017 11:50 PM

Perhaps not specific to the US, but global.
We have huge shortages here, with a big contributing factor the lack of industry to provide decent hands on training now.
Lack of work ethic is symptomatic of current generation I think, not all but def is there.

seth350 October 8th, 2017 01:31 AM

The coming uppers like blinking lights and barf at bearings is what I see. Also the ever growing need for a toilet unclogger/programmer/welder/project manager/fill in the blank that turn the good ones away running. .
Also, the schools are just paper mills and have been for some time. Not all I’m sure.
We have hired people who do outstanding on entry testing but are knots on a log and/or do not have the aptitude/attitude. My area is in a vacuum so to speak, in which the talent gravitate toward the bigger surrounding cities. So pay is another factor.
It’s typical to see the car lot scratchoff style job posting to bait in talent. We have had people go through the hiring process and get a badge, then 10 minutes into orientation get a phone call for a better paying job and give the badge right back.

See there, you done got me throwing a fit! Lol
In all seriousness, one of our local schools formed an advisory board in which members from local industries meet as a group with the school faculty and talk about what their needs are for candidates and discuss how the school can better prepare the students.

That might be a good tool for you to use if your schools do that or if they don’t, talk to them to see if they will start one in return for some donated hardware.

jvdcande October 8th, 2017 02:44 AM

We see the same over here in Europe. All youngsters are urged by their parents to go take higher education, technical education is considered too low. "Why would you get your hands dirty and only get paid pennies" is what's driving people to advise their children about education. And it's true: the job market is (for what I see) the only market NOT driven by supply and demand. If it were, better maintenance techs over here would be paid easily 100k-150k per year in stead of 50k and engineers would have to do with 50k. A situation like this would encourage youngster to take up technical education and the job market could end up in balance again. But I'm afraid it's only wishful thinking.

Ronnie Sullivan October 8th, 2017 04:43 AM

It's been going on for 30 years but not too noticeable until now.
Either manufacturers didn't take on an influx of apprentices each year (weeding out the poor ones after year 1)
Or the young 'uns didn't want a job where they get dirty
Everybody wanted to work in I.T or be a website designer.

The chaps that did go into maintenance are now old and retiring or dying.
But they coped with the lack of numbers for 30 years - and training apprentices was a bygone thing.

The government in the UK is always sprouting how they are going to pay for apprentice schemes with all the latest technology but not much happens.
The old guys are still just about coping.

At present, I have 3 major projects on the go and can't get anyone to help me.
Luckily all 3 are delayed because they can't get the men either. - so everybody is waiting for everybody else.
The completion dates have long since sailed by

damica1 October 8th, 2017 08:16 AM


Originally Posted by seth350 (Post 754559)
the ever growing need for a toilet unclogger/programmer/welder/project manager/fill in the blank that turn the good ones away running. .

This is a big problem here in the US. Nobody wants to call it what it really is!!!

I answered an ad in the local paper 3 years ago, the ad just said Maintenance Technician Wanted, send resume. Now this was for a major corporation. I sent in my resume, got called in for an interview, once in the interview, I realized what they really wanted was a Janitor. I told them they needed to word their ad to reflect the position they needed.

I see this all the time anymore, companies try to glorify the needed position.

Example: Sanitation Technician=Trash Pickup Person. Or IT Person Wanted when what they really are looking for is a factory worker that assembles "Routers"!!

seth350 October 8th, 2017 09:30 AM

Spoiler: They are all winners, and none of the prizes exist.

janner_10 October 8th, 2017 10:01 AM

Its the sort of job, where if you need to hire someone, the ones available have been made redundant or are useless. Sadly more of the latter.

The decent ones tend to get good money eventually and they stay put, then retire.

I saw a firm by me advertising for a Maintenance Engineer for 23k including working 4 on 4 off, who the fudge do they think they are going to get for that??

It can be back breaking work, getting filthy dirty, working weekends, nights, bank holidays etc. If pay accurately reflected that then there maybe more of a pool to choose from.

A decent guy can save you 1000's if not 100,000's per year, so pay him what he's worth.

Years ago when I was a Maintenance Engineer, we lost a good guy for the sake of 2 per hour! Yes 2 per hour! He got a better offer, gave my then boss a chance to convince him to stay, my boss called his bluff and off he went. The department suffered and his replacement wasn't found until 12 months later. My then boss didn't want to be held to ransom, but my colleague had more money to pay the mortgage and support his family. The only winner was him.

nehpets October 8th, 2017 10:19 AM

Janner 10,

Never were truer words spoken.
God help UK industry and manufacturing in the next 10 years when the majority of time served apprentices and trades people all retire.

All we have to replace them are NVQ's (non vocational qualifications) or (Not Very Qualified)as they are mocked.


Aabeck October 8th, 2017 01:00 PM

I have said this exact thing before, and last week was working with a tech from New York that said he was retiring next year and it was impossible to find someone to teach to do his work - so all their customers will be on their own.

I have worked with a few young "Maintenance Trainees" that were the laziest people I have ever worked with. Tell them to do something and they immediately start thinking of reasons why it doesn't need to be done - then fall back to the line "________ Company has been running for 30 years without _______, so why is it needed now?"

sparkie October 8th, 2017 01:20 PM

I have heard lots of people talking about this, but very few doing anything about it. I see several types of situations going on.

The first and most important is pay/benefits. I had one interview where we discussed the position, spoke about pay and they wanted to give me $12/hour, and to them that was a lot.

Another, I drove three hours to the interview to be told when I arrived that they weren't going to place someone into the controls and instrumentation position because their "single" tech was doing an okay job keep it up and offered me a maintenance position instead for about $7 less an hour. Their other reason for this is that their new maintenance director knew about controls work. I asked him politely that if he was on the floor doing work, who would be running the department? The recruiter did a great job, but I felt a bit bad.

Another interview roughly the same distance away. The job description included working with databases, robotics, controls, PLC work, electrical troubleshooting, high level programming languages, etc. I get there and am asked how I feel about unclogging toilets. I'm not above it, but that raises all kinds of red flags.

Lets talk about my last job as a controls and instrumentation guy. The pay was around $15/hour to start. In order to get raises we had to take these skill block tests. About 150 pages per tests and 10 tests to get a .75 cent raise, and we pretty much had to do them on our own time and were not allowed to take the books home. I saw lots of VERY skilled mechanics, electricians and controls guys stay for no more than six months then go elsewhere.

After looking around in the industry and seeing that I was going to top out in the low $20/hour, and would likely be working for much less than that for at least another 7 years to earn decent pay. Now I'm one of those guys just going after higher education to get the money I want, and it isn't all due to "lazy trainees" and people that are "incapable of doing the work." There is no incentive there from the companies to do a good job. The hours suck. Nights, weekends, holidays, whenever the production team isn't there, the maintenance department is doing what needs to be done. The hours are long, the work is often hard and dirty, and in order to make close to 90-100K you are working 60+ hour weeks 50 weeks a year, fighting management to get the funds to do simple projects that will pay for themselves in a matter of months and peeling off and replacing the same old bandaid on equipment. At the same time, upper management is using these funds they deny for the company to get themselves nice fat bonuses each year (that can be quite substantial, 50K in mid sized companies and around a million for top executives.) To hell with those guys that keep the plant running though. They are, and I quote a plant manager, "A dime a dozen. Look at how many we hire and lose each year."

This isn't going to change any time soon, and the rest of the world is quickly surpassing us as world leaders in manufacturing.

seth350 October 8th, 2017 02:02 PM

A dime a dozen. You’ve heard that to? Weird. Lol
At the end of the day, the captain must go down with the ship. The sailors are free to save themselves.

gas October 8th, 2017 02:24 PM

I am retired but still work 2 jobs part time. I started as a Toolmaker then mechanic, same story as many of you.
I now teach at a UAW auto plant. I am impressed by the adult students that they send me. When I get done with them they then go to Detroit and are tested. Those guys are tough. My students all excel but other plants try to sham their way thru and fail.
I heard that one auto company requires 15000 skilled, toolmakers, welders electricians etc,. They have 13000 but 8000 are over the age of 50. They are aggressively addressing the training issue.
On the other hand, as, said above, 10 to 12 bucks an hour is the pay. Then they start to throw in rotating shifts. The owners complain about spending that much but willingly pay 80 to 100 bucks an hour to get oil changed at the Mercedes dealership.
Academia look down on “training” but arrogantly tell industrial folks what they should know. I watched a Dean of Vocational Ed.(PHD) order a fellow instructor to immediately stop teaching ProE as all machines are designed in universities. “Tool, machine and product designers will never use that software”.
I worry what the world is going to be like for my Grandkids.
End of rant

GaryS October 8th, 2017 02:51 PM

I hate to say his but I saw this coming over 30 years ago when I worked maintenance for a while.
The way I read it is this management sees’s maintenance as over head ( pure cost ) that produces nothing but has to be paid for. Generally speaking they want to pay them less than the production people. Cut costs where they can.
They also expect their maintenance people to work the odd hours , weekends and holidays to do repairs when production is down and everybody else is off. Add to that most maintenance personal supply their own tools. When you add it all up maintenance compensation is far below production and not including the personal Investment is time to learn the trade is very high.
The young people coming in the industry today see no advantage to going into the trade, don’t value the skills and just want to take home a paycheck.
Management needs to change there thinking about maintenance or the problem will get worse as technology moves on the need for trained maintenance personal will increase. The demand will increase even faster as us old guys retire out with no replacements coming in.
A good maintenance person is worth 3 to 4 production people. And can make or break most any company. In order for them to do their jobs they must have the skills to do the production jobs in addition to their own. They must be able to multitask at many levels, do their own time management to get the job done all of this with very little rewords after all it’s expected of maintenance personal.
Why with all of this would anybody want to get into the trade.

Aabeck October 8th, 2017 03:05 PM

Now I am thinking of the movie Futureworld - all the maintenance (except where water was involved) was done by robots and there was only 1 human that could do wet work.

Maybe somebody needs to design a waterproof body for IBM's Watson???

Otherwise companies will be buying replacement machines every time a bearing goes bad or sensor fails.

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