President Donald Trump met with two dozen CEOs of American manufacturing companies earlier this week. The topics were supposed to include restoring factory jobs that have been lost to foreign competition (let’s ignore the fact that most of those manufacturer’s are doing their manufacturing overseas). But they probably surprised him by saying that there were plenty of jobs but Americans don’t have the skill sets to do them. And I say he would be surprised because job training hasn’t been a topic of conversation during the campaign…he simply said he’d bring the jobs back!

Yet some of the CEOs suggested that there were still plenty of openings for U.S. factory jobs but too few qualified people to fill them. They urged the White House to support vocational training for the high-tech skills that today’s manufacturers increasingly require – a topic Trump has seldom addressed.

“The jobs are there, but the skills are not,” one executive said during meetings with White House officials that preceded a session with the president.

The discussion of job training and worker skills is a relatively new one for Trump, who campaigned for the White House on promises to restore manufacturing jobs that he said had been lost to flawed trade deals and unfair competition from countries like Mexico and China.

Again and again, Trump brought up that theme in his meeting with the CEOs.

“Everything is going to be based on bringing our jobs back,” Trump said. “The good jobs, the real jobs.
They’ve left.

So it sounds like the good jobs are the ones that are still here…the ones going unfilled…the ones Americans aren’t trained for.

I remember seeing a clip just after the election of a coal miner in West Virginia who was excited that President Trump was elected…and he would be getting his mining job back…and that he didn’t need training. Well, he’s going to be in for a big surprise too. The job isn’t coming back and training is what he and his peers need for the real jobs that are out there. But:

One executive said in discussions with White House officials that his company has 50 participants in a factory apprenticeship program, but could take 500 if enough were qualified. But he said that in his experience, most students coming out of high school lack the math and English skills to absorb technical manuals.

Government figures show there are 324,000 open factory jobs nationwide – triple the number in 2009, during the depths of the recession.

So education is a better answer than “I’m bringing the jobs back!”

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6 Responses to CEOs Tell Trump We Have Jobs but Americans Aren’t Qualified!

  1. Edward Susterich says:

    Some of the CEO’s commented on their meeting with Trump.

    My reaction to their gushing comments about Trump–
    What a bunch of toadies.

  2. Charles Kuehn says:

    To those CEOs: Try offering a living wage. You might be surprised at the “qualified” folks who come out of the woodwork. That vaunted free market works both ways, guys. When there’s an employees market, as you claim, suck it up and pay the premium. Think of it as an investment. You get what you pay for.

  3. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    What Charles said. There’s not a skills gap, there’s a WAGE gap. And Wisconsin is one of the worst places for that mentality (Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan pay much more than us).

    Funny how CEOs ignore the laws of supply and demand when.it might cut into their profits.

  4. nonquixote says:

    Living wages and totally corporate financed training of the individuals they need, along with employee incentives to remain at the firms which trained them. Firms would be less incentivized to use, abuse and dump workers and to keep and protect the work force which they needed.

    Oh wait, CEOs would be giving up power and control, workers would be able to make some meager demands over time.

    • Charles Kuehn says:

      Meager demands? Employees ought to be able to make substantial demands whenever the market allows. Like now, if CEO claims of an employees’ market are accurate. Employees, in fairness, need to be able to set the price of their labor to no less an extent than their employers set the prices of their products. On both sides of the equation, there is a bare minimum cost that must be met, after which the market may take over. Here’s a quote, the source of which I can’t recall, but is well worth posting:

      “The absolute floor below which the value of labor cannot fall is compensation that is sufficient to live on. The fact that people work to live and meet their basic needs establishes a firm, and quite unquestionable, minimum value for that labor. Long, long ago, when people could expend labor to support themselves directly, e.g. hunting, cultivating, and building shelter, that labor was done to meet the living needs of that person, family, clan, or village. The fact that most people must work for another today does not alter that basic concept. It is as true today that living is the purpose for work as it was 20,000 years ago. Therefore, the purpose, and it follows the minimum value, of labor has not changed. What most libertarians (and phony libertarians and government-dependent Objectivists) fail to acknowledge is that it is impossible to separate the human being from the labor. The minimum value of labor is the minimum operating expense (living needs) of the human beings that do it. Anything above that can be addressed to a considerable extent by the market. But the fact that labor comes with a human being attached sets an absolute minimum floor to the value of that labor.”

      • nonquixote says:

        The second part of my last sentence was deliberately a bit of facetiousness, but thanks for the marvelous quote supporting the importance of human beings performing labor.

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