What Is the Welder Shortage and How Is It Impacting Businesses?
The welding industry has been facing a shortage of workers in the last few years, and this will continue in the near future. The American Welding Society predicts a deficit of 400,000 welders by 2024, showing a decreasing number of welders in the U.S. This decrease in demand is due to several different sources, which can be addressed with certain strategies like new educational technology and automated equipment. Let’s take a closer look at the welder shortage and how it’s affecting the way the industry works.
What’s Causing the Shortage?
There are several reasons for the welder shortage, but most of them fall under two categories — difficulty replacing retirees and negative perceptions surrounding the career.
Many careers suffer from workforces that lean heavily toward an older population, and welding is no exception. This older workforce means that as baby boomers retire, there aren’t enough younger employees to fill their spots. Some of the negative effects include a labor pool that isn’t as skilled as well as a reduced ability to compete for jobs.
The other issue that’s prevalent in the welding industry is strong negative perceptions about the job. Many young people lose interest in the career path because they think that it:
- Is repetitive and monotonous.
- Offers low pay.
- Involves working in dirty environments.
- Lacks career growth opportunity.
Changing these misconceptions is an important part of addressing the welder shortage.
Solutions to the Welder Shortage
The industry must take steps to address these challenges and help increase interest in the field.
One popular strategy is to automate more of the job so fewer workers are required in the first place. Equipment like advanced welding arcs helps bridge the gap between the number of employees and the work that needs to be done, but it still requires operators. Plus, it won’t replace the valuable performance of skilled laborers. It can, however, make some jobs easier or faster, so there’s less training necessary or the worker can be freed up quicker for the next project.
In addition, the industry should work to address the misconceptions that exist about welding and take steps to grow the workforce. Investing in education and robust training methods can help recruit more young people into the business and ensure that their training is effective.
Many new technologies, like augmented reality simulations, can even make training much faster and help get students into the business more quickly. This is useful both to companies looking to meet tight deadlines and students who want to finish training as quickly as possible and start making money. Education is also important in making sure students can jump into the job with new technology and know how to use it.