Manufacturers Tell Schneider About Hiring Needs
Deerfield Congressman learns from local businesses about their skill needs while on recess from Capitol Hill.
What does Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield) do when he spends a week in his 10th Congressional District office in Lincolnshire rather than at the United States Capitol in Washington?
Schneider spent much of his time during the current recess building local support for legislation he proposed two weeks ago, the America Works Act, to bring well paying jobs to the country and the northern suburbs.
Aimed at small and medium sized companies, the law proposed by Schneider and Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) will help create a certification which schools and other training programs can issue to signify to a potential employer the credential holder is ready to step into a specific job.
Visits with Panek Precision in Northbrook and Rexam PLC in Buffalo Grove Thursday demonstrated local manufacturers are hungry for skilled workers to fill their technical jobs. Schneider’s believes his proposed legislation will help.
“There’s a lot of geometry in programming these machines,” Panek President Gregg Panek of Bannockburn said of the work necessary to cut metal into pieces which will ultimately be used to manufacture automobiles among other things. “If you can learn how to do this you can have a high paying job.”
Those positions can bring salaries in excess of $80,000 per year, according to Panek. “We have to get parents to realize there are good jobs for their children in manufacturing,” he said.
One of the things Schneider has been learning on the visits to Panek and Rexam as well as a tour of area companies he took last month is employers in the area are having a problem finding people with the skills to fill manufacturing positions.
“Everywhere I go we hear that,” Schneider said in response to Panek. “The businesses will be able to recognize the qualified applicants when they have that certificate (as a result of the America Works Act),” he added explaining the significance of the proposal.
Panek, his son and company Vice President Brian Panek along with Brian McGuire of the Tool & Manufacturing Association and Zach Motti of Atlas Tool & Die Works in Palatine all told Schneider about the importance of developing skilled workers.
Schneider recognizes marketing of both his proposed law and increasing the appeal of manufacturing jobs are necessary to fill available positions in his District.
“Packaging the program is important. When I graduated from college in 1983 more than 20 percent of the jobs were in manufacturing. Now it’s half of that,” Schneider said. He knows education and training are necessary. “Math and science are very important to these jobs.”
Once young people get the exposure and training their attitude about operating a machine for a living often changes for reasons other than money. “It’s a video game to them,” Panek said.
Under the America Works Act companies like Panek will identify needed skills. Once people learn them, they will get a certificate which lets the potential employer know they can step into the job.
“We don’t have industrial arts anymore,” Schneider said about program that once prepared high school students for skilled jobs. “We have to identify the skills. Manufacturers will give us the skill set.”