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Brown said he’s also picked up much anecdotal evidence “from local manufacturers that they’ve had difficulty finding skilled employees, particularly machinists.”
That’s partly because of a longtime perception that “manufacturing was on the decline and the jobs were moving overseas,” he said. “This discouraged a lot of younger people from entering careers in manufacturing.”
Now, increased transportation costs and higher overseas wages have led many companies to shift manufacturing to the U.S. “In a lot of cases, it makes more sense for manufacturers to be closer to where their products will be used,” he said.
In some cases, companies are working to train people themselves. Lisa Rivera, a business analyst at Steinwall Inc. in Coon Rapids, said the company is gearing up for the launch of certified technician training. That will help those who arrive at Steinwall without transferable skills, she said.
Right now, the company is hiring several new operators, plus an accountant, a buyer and a highly skilled machine technician. “We’ve definitely had downturns over the past few years but we’re seeing an upswing now.”
For a complete list of Minnesota Manufacturing Week events, go to the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association’s website at www.mpma.com.
Anna Pratt is a Minneapolis freelance writer.