Editorials

Making workers for flood of factory jobs

Triad High School students use protective welding masks in 2014 to watch a demonstration of this robotic welder at the Sam Wolf Campus of Southwestern Illinois College in Granite City. About 3,000 industrial and trade jobs are expected to open in the area within five years.
Triad High School students use protective welding masks in 2014 to watch a demonstration of this robotic welder at the Sam Wolf Campus of Southwestern Illinois College in Granite City. About 3,000 industrial and trade jobs are expected to open in the area within five years. tvizer@bnd.com

There are some interesting cross-currents in our land of many rivers, and they have implications for our job outlook and people’s careers.

Recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Illinois as a whole is still losing manufacturing jobs while out neighbor states have all gained: Illinois lost 1,800 manufacturing jobs in September and 12,500 total so far in 2015. In 2013 the Illinois job bleed to other states took away $4.1 billion in taxable income.

Not so here in Southwestern Illinois.

The Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois recently released their review of the local economy for 2014. There was billions in new investment, both public and private.

One significant point was that there are plenty of well-paying manufacturing jobs with good benefits. What we don’t have is enough folks to fill those local jobs.

“They need new people to come to work in those fields,” council Executive Director Ellen Krohne said. She added that Southwestern Illinois College and other community education resources are ready to train folks for those jobs.

The report also showed that our river, highway, rail and airport-rich area is one of the best Midwest locations for manufacturing and more than 16,000 folks make their living in manufacturing — a high ratio compared to similar communities. The problem is that we already are shy on job applicants and as many as 3,000 local manufacturing and trades workers will retire within five years.

Hey, high school students. Hey, displaced workers. Hey, underemployed and unemployed folks. You can literally build a better life.

Not everybody needs four years of college, and our workforce only needs so many Elizabethan poetry majors and independent documentary makers.

The employers are putting out the word through a website, wellpaid.info, and a toll-free number, 844-935-5724.

The worst that could happen is you wind up with a good job that could, at some point, maybe put you in Indiana or Missouri. There are worse fates.

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