The manufacturing skills gap in the U.S. could result in 2.1 million unfilled jobs by 2030, according to a new study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute. The cost of those missing jobs could potentially total $1 trillion in 2030 alone. Manufacturers are increasingly looking to solutions like robotics and automation to bridge the gap.
Because welding is an essential part of manufacturing, many concerns are focused on the welding industry, which has been facing a shortage of workers for several years. The American Welding Society, an organization supporting the welding industry and its workers, predicts that the country’s workforce will need 400,000 welders by 2024.
Along with machinists, carpenters, and other tradespeople, the versatile, skilled welder who can handle several welding methods has suddenly become a scarce commodity. The demand for skilled welders has been outpacing the supply and continues unabated, leaving many wondering what happened.
What’s causing the shortage of welders?
The causes of labor shortages in welding and other skilled trades can be attributed to several factors, but one of the primary causes stems from an aging workforce. Older tradespeople, many from the so-called baby boomer generation, are reaching retirement age faster than companies can replace them.
Over half of all skilled trades workers are 45 or older, and predictions indicate there will not be enough new workers to fill these openings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for welders are projected to grow two percent from 2022 to 2031, considerably slower than the average for all occupations.
Despite limited employment growth, about 47,600 openings for welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers are expected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of the openings will result from the need to replace workers who either retire or find different occupations.
However, although an increased rate of retirements might be the leading cause of fewer welders, it certainly isn’t the only one. (more…)