Shortages in skilled labor sector continue despite opportunities

The history of skilled labor is grand and imparts visions of steel workers, bricklayers, carpenters, printers and general craftsmen who built the country’s urban landscapes, infrastructure, neighborhoods and factories. Today’s skilled worker has a more complex repertoire of options and opportunity.

“Becoming a skilled worker is a great alternative to a college education,” said Daniel Gibbs, vice president of Skilled Craftsmen of Texas. “A skilled worker can make a good living earning between $60,000 and $100,000 a year.”

Gibbs said it’s an option few are aware of and a workforce sector that is facing a huge shortage. The pool of workers is shrinking as baby boomers retire and fewer people enter the trades. He said the key to rebuilding the workforce is education.

Companies such as FMC Technologies agree and support creating a sustainable workforce with a renewed emphasis in training and mentoring.

With approximately 16,100 employees who operate 28 production facilities in 16 countries, FMC Technologies designs, manufactures and services technologically sophisticated systems and products such as subsea production and processing systems, surface-wellhead systems, high-pressure fluid control equipment, measurement solutions, and marine-loading systems for the oil and gas industry.

Training a knowledgeable workforce is essential to providing superior service to FMC’s clients.

“We try to give all employees the opportunity to be challenged and to work globally,” said Geir Arne Skau, human resources manager, WR Subsea. “In looking for new employees we look for relevant experience, but more importantly, we look for a good attitude, collaborative mind-set and an aptitude for learning.”

Currently, FMC Technologies is looking for assemblers (assembly and mechanical experience preferred), CNC Machinists (five-plus years of experience), clad and pipe welders (experience with Inconel and large parts preferred) and maintenance technicians (CNC Controls experience required).

The company also is looking for offshore technicians. Offshore technicians support field operations, and install, maintain and operate FMC’s equipment. Skau said diverse knowledge is required, and a technical background is helpful for the complex environment, however FMC provides extensive training.

“We are investing more in company training and education to develop employees both new and existing and to train the unskilled,” said Brian Janak, director of operations, WR Subsea.

“After hiring a skilled professional, we will still put them through six to eight months of training and mentoring.”

The company has established FMC University to support its growth.

It has created a School of Engineering, with a plan to launch several other schools throughout the year.