Bill Williamson’s well-written article regarding labor shortage challenges in our manufacturing sector (Growing Next Wave of Manufacturing Talent Will Take Fresh Thinking, Oct. 22) suggested actions employers can take to address this problem, including raising wages, tapping retirees and adding training. Our media raises up the shortened course of study and guarantee of a competitive-wage job found with a trades degree.

How wonderful this all sounds.

I have been an agricultural laborer, dishwasher, waitress, secretary and a para-professional in Maine’s schools. It was my experience as a manufacturing employee that I found most suppressing. In no other job did I hear the repetitive foul language, experience the us-vs.-them dynamics between labor and management, witness sabotage among workers and hear misogyny and racist talk as I did in manufacturing. My interests of reading and travel were best stifled. I felt pressured to join the baseball pool. Sadly, my skilled machinist family member found this same climate in several plants. He will not be returning.

Trade schools would do well to add a fine arts requirement to their programs. Employers could boost morale by installing book swap shelves, offering discounts not only to “the game,” but to theater, the gym and the symphony, and offer workshops in diversity and workplace behavior expectations.

At the risk of generalizing manufacturing plant climates, the “modern work environment” Mr. Williamson refers to must include the “affect” arm if employers wish to attract and retain skilled workers. “Fresh Thinking” indeed.

Lucy Webb Hardy


Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: