This sector could have a half million job openings and opportunities for older workers


Although the coronavirus continues to rattle global markets and industries, some analysts expect to see greater demand for advanced manufacturing talent in the U.S. as the pandemic diminishes. That could create opportunities for older men and women, including white-collar professionals struggling to find jobs.

Before COVID-19, there were 500,000 manufacturing jobs open in the U.S., according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). “We’re going to have a need very quickly to ramp up on hiring in those facilities that may have been shut down during the crisis or that need to expand operations,” said NAM president and CEO Jay Timmons in a recent press conference.


“The fact that one can get a certificate in about nine months and totally re-career into a nearly guaranteed job is an incredible opportunity for an older worker.”


— Nora Duncan, Connecticut state director of AARP

As manufacturers frantically try to keep up again with demand for essentials and lifesaving PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for health care workers as cases rise across the country, their innovation and high-tech problem-solving could help dispel misconceptions that all manufacturing jobs are dirty and physically demanding, said Sara Tracey, project manager of workforce services for the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association in Akron, Ohio.

Manufacturing jobs and what they pay

Entry-level manufacturing jobs in industries such as aerospace, technology and defense include CNC operators, set-up technicians and programmers, as well as inspectors, higher-end assembly technicians and quality assurance.

The pay typically ranges between $35,000 and $65,000, including overtime and benefits, said Richard DuPont, director of community and campus relations for the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Conn. More experienced professionals can earn upward of $95,000.

80% of older Americans can’t afford to retire – COVID-19 isn’t helping

In Ohio, manufacturers have been training and moving some workers into higher positions so the companies can hire and train new candidates for vacated ones, Tracey noted. Resources such as the Making Ohio website let people explore careers in manufacturing, including robotics, automation and 3-D printing.

Industrial maintenance is an important career pathway these days, as well, Tracey said. This sector is expecting more retirements in the near future, which will create jobs from “traditional machine mechanics to troubleshooting state-of-the-art electronic or robotic processes,” Tracey noted.

Also see: Cannabis, whiskey, and mobile bike repair: These entrepreneurs are thriving in the pandemic

Connecticut, among other states, now offers training programs with community colleges, state manufacturers and other organizations.

From banking to precision tools

This kind of training helped Allison Clemens-Roberts, who is over 50, find work after losing her clerical job in the pensions department of a Connecticut bank in 2017. A severance package gave her time to look for work, but she couldn’t find even temporary employment. She blames age discrimination by white-collar employers.

“There’s no way to hide how old you are. They can ask when you graduated from school,” Clemens-Roberts said.

But while she was out of work, Clemens-Roberts received a postcard from AARP offering a 25% tuition scholarship on advanced manufacturing programs at Goodwin University, a career-focused school in East Hartford, Conn.

She wasn’t interested until her husband Frank saw a TV commercial touting the benefits of Goodwin’s manufacturing and other programs.

“He said, ‘Why don’t you think about changing careers?’” Clemens-Roberts recalled.

So, with several months left on her severance, she enrolled in a full-time, six-month CNC (Computer Numerical Control) Machining, Metrology and Manufacturing Technology certification program. It would prepare her for a job working with automated machine tools which requires mathematical skills, attention to detail and critical thinking.

SectorWatch: 80% of older Americans can’t afford to retire – COVID-19 isn’t helping

Scholarships cut Clemens-Roberts’ tuition bill from $7,000 to $3,200. After a two-month paid internship at TOMZ, a manufacturer of precision components for major medical devices in Berlin, Conn., she was hired in April 2019. Six months later, TOMZ reimbursed Clemens-Roberts $1,500 for her education tab.

Clemens-Roberts said her family is now in a better financial position than when she was working in a bank, living paycheck-to-paycheck. Considered an essential worker, she has kept her full-time job through the pandemic, except for three days in March.

“I never thought I would go to college and participate in a graduation — in cap and gown,” Clemens-Roberts said. “That was a big surprise. And [actor] Danny Glover was the speaker. A bucket-list experience.”

There’s “obviously age discrimination, among other things, at play” for job seekers over 50, said Nora Duncan, Connecticut state director of AARP. “The fact that one can get a certificate in about nine months and totally re-career into a nearly guaranteed job is an incredible opportunity for an older worker.”

While AARP helped Clemens-Roberts pay for the tuition initially, the internship helped her get hired as a machine operator.

Older and younger manufacturing workers helping each other

The search for skilled manufacturing labor across the country is creating opportunities for workers of all ages, said DuPont. And older and younger generations working together are assisting each other.

The older students help younger classmates with life skills, while younger students can help with technology,” said DuPont. “Together, they make excellent teams.”

Don’t miss: How will the robots see you through the pandemic?

Just ask Fernando Vega, 62, who is now a quality inspector at Forrest Machine, in Berlin, Conn. It makes precision-machined parts and other components for the aerospace and commercial industries. In the 1990s, he was a quality inspector before recessions and outsourcing forced him to consider other careers.

He tried working for a nonprofit and though Vega found the work rewarding, it wasn’t financially sustainable.

So, Vega went back to school in spring 2018 to study advanced manufacturing at Goodwin.

“I was in a class of 18, and at first everyone kept to themselves. But when it came time to read blueprints, there was some panic and I said, ‘Don’t panic, I’ll show you.’ The [younger] students helped me with trigonometry, and then we started to work together.”

Vega has worked at his manufacturing job throughout the pandemic. At one point, he was putting in 50 hours a week, but that was reduced to 40 hours plus overtime.

Vega recalled promising his mother that he would go to college. “But that was a long time ago,” he said. His mother never got to see him graduate but Vega feels he’s fulfilled his promise — not only to her, but also to himself. “I love my job,” he said.



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‘Spread out? Where?’ Smithfield says not all plant workers can be socially distanced By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Smithfield Foods, the world’s biggest pork processor, said workers cannot be socially distant in all areas of its plants, in response to U.S. senators who pressed meatpackers on coronavirus outbreaks in slaughterhouses.

Meatpackers are under mounting pressure to protect workers after more than 16,000 employees in 23 states were infected with COVID-19 and 86 workers died in circumstances related to the respiratory disease, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker last month said Smithfield, Tyson Foods Inc (N:), JBS USA [JBS.UL] and Cargill Inc () had put workers in harm’s way to maintain production. The senators asked the companies how much meat they shipped to China while warning of domestic shortages due to slaughterhouse outbreaks.

Smithfield, in a June 30 response made public on Friday, said it erected physical barriers and took other steps to protect workers in areas where social distancing is impossible.

The company, owned by China’s WH Group Ltd (HK:), balked at slowing processing line speeds to increase space between employees. It said slowdowns would back up hogs on farms, leading to animal euthanizations and higher food prices.

“For better or worse, our plants are what they are,” Smithfield Chief Executive Kenneth Sullivan said. “Four walls, engineered design, efficient use of space, etc. Spread out? Okay. Where?”

Tyson told the senators it decreased the number of employees on production lines and created barriers or required face shields in areas where employees cannot be distanced.

“These companies clearly cannot be trusted to do what is right,” said Booker. He and Warren called for new legislation to protect workers.

Smithfield, Tyson and JBS did not disclose how much meat they have exported. JBS, a unit of Brazil’s JBS SA (SA:), said it accounted for less than 10% of U.S. pork exports to China. Cargill said it has not exported U.S. beef or turkey to China this year.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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UK lawmakers, retailers call for action to prevent garment workers’ exploitation By Reuters


© Reuters.

LONDON (Reuters) – A group of 50 British lawmakers, retailers such as Marks & Spencer and New Look, and investors and NGOs called on Monday for urgent action to prevent the exploitation of garment factory workers in the United Kingdom.

Their joint letter, coordinated by industry lobby group the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and addressed to interior minister Priti Patel, asked for the introduction of statutory licensing of garment factories to ensure they all meet their legal obligations to employees.

The letter was published following recent media reports of workers being paid below the minimum wage, not being supplied with personal protection equipment (PPE) and working in unsafe conditions.

Britain’s minimum wage is 8.72 pounds ($10.95) for people over 25 years old and 8.20 pounds for people aged 21 to 24.

The BRC said it and its members have long been calling for greater enforcement by the authorities to support the actions retailers are taking to ensure fair treatment of workers and to enourage businesses to invest in UK fashion manufacturing.

“Recent reports in the media demonstrate the urgent need for action before more workers are needlessly taken advantage of,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.

The letter said the proposed licencing scheme would protect workers from forced labour and mistreatment, ensure payment of taxes and create a level playing field for businesses to compete fairly by preventing rogue manufacturers undercutting prices.

It would also encourage retailers to source their clothing from the UK, supporting the development of the industry.

Retailer signatories include ASOS (L:), Walmart (N:) owned Asda, M & S (L:), Morrisons (L:), N Brown (L:), Joules (L:), New Look, River Island and Matalan.

Online fashion retailer Boohoo (L:) was not a signatory. It wrote its own letter to Patel on Friday backing a licensing scheme.

“We fully support the proposals of the BRC and others on the need to implement statutory licensing of garment factory owners and managers,” said a Boohoo spokesman.

Investor signatories include Allianz (DE:) Global Investors, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, Fidelity International, Jupiter Asset Management and Schroders (LON:) Investment Management.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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Daimler talks with workers heat up, with 15,000 jobs at risk By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Germany

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Labour representatives at German carmaker Daimler (DE:) said on Monday that discussions with management over cost cuts had become “rougher”, after a board member said over the weekend that more than 15,000 jobs were at risk.

The auto industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, which shut factories and showrooms forcing traditional carmakers to seek deeper cuts.

Daimler had already said in November, before the pandemic started, that it would cut at least 10,000 jobs worldwide over the following three years, following peers as they cut costs to invest in electric vehicles while grappling with weakening sales.

The owner of the Mercedes-Benz brand had stuck with a pledge at the time to avoid forced redundancies at its German workforce until 2029.

Daimler board member Wilfried Porth told Stuttgarter Zeitung over the weekend, however, that more than 15,000 workers would now have to take a buyout or retire to avoid forced layoffs.

The works council for Daimler said on Monday it was aware of the seriousness of the situation.

“The tone of our discussion is getting rougher and is putting our cooperation to the test,” it said.

Daimler managed to come through a crisis in the past, the works council said, adding it had always found a way forward, and did not expect the situation to be any different this time around.

Daimler reiterated on Monday the company wanted to avoid forced redundancies, but for this to happen the carmaker needed to find alternative ways of cutting costs.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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Soaring demand for federal jobless benefits points to fresh fissures in the U.S. economy


The number of unemployed people collecting jobless benefits through a temporary federal-relief program has exploded in the past month to more than 14 million, suggesting the U.S. labor market is facing a fresh set of problems.

After a small decline in mid-May, applications for benefits filed through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program have soared 53% to 14.4 million as of June 20 from 9.37 million a month earlier. Federal continuing claims are reported with a two-week lag.

Read:Jobless claims fall to four-month low of 1.31 million in early July, but layoffs still high

The increase in federal filings has mostly offset a gradual decline in continuing claims paid out by the states through the traditional unemployment compensation program. They’ve fallen to 16.8 million as of June 27 from a pandemic high of 22.8 million in early May.

All figures are unadjusted for accuracy and an apples-to-apple comparison. The government’s seasonal adjustments don’t apply with federal claims since they did not exist prior to the viral outbreak.

The portrait of the coronavirus-infected labor market looks worse if all continuing jobless claims are combined. Almost 33 million people were receiving benefits as of June 20, up from 31.5 million in the preceding week, according to Labor Department data.

By contrast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ normally more reliable monthly employment report indicated 17.8 million people were unemployed in June.

The gap between weekly continuing jobless claims and the monthly unemployment numbers has left a big — and inexplicable puzzle — for economists. Why aren’t all these people telling the Labor Department they are unemployed?

Read:Jobless claims tell us 32.9 million people are unemployed, but is it really that bad?

“It tells me one of two things: Either the claims are wrong or the unemployment figures are wrong,” said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors. “There is no other way I can explain that.”

Which numbers should they trust?

Many say it’s hard to fully trust either number given the devastation wrought by a once-in-a-century pandemic and the government’s flailing response to keep track of it all.

State unemployment offices, for example, have been overwhelmed by more than 55 million new claims in the past several months.

Many were also understaffed or relied on ancient technology, a problem compounded by the introduction of a federal relief program that loosened eligibility standards. For the first time ever the self-employed such as mom-and-pop businesses, Uber drivers and other “Gig” workers could get compensation.

It’s possible, economists say, that many federal claims were filed weeks or months ago and are just being reported now. Most states struggled to graft the federal claims program onto their state programs.

Read:U.S. regains 4.8 million jobs in June. Is rehiring poised to slow?

Whatever the case, the more than 14 million people receiving federal benefits would not have been able to collect a dime before the pandemic since they do not contribute to the joint state-federal compensation fund.

Those getting relief under the federal law can get benefits through the rest of the year, but a separate government bonus of up to $600 for each unemployed worker is set to expire at the end of July.

Some economists think the extra benefits may have inflated the claims figures because many workers earn more from unemployment than what their jobs paid. There’s also been scattered reports of workers declining to go back to their jobs because of both safety concerns and the generosity of government benefits.

“The number of people collecting benefits is roughly double the number of people telling the BLS that they are unemployed. Something is fishy here,” wrote Stephen Stanley, chief economist of Amherst Pierpont Securities. “My inclination is, unfortunately, to largely ignore these data until the dust clears a little more, which is a shame because we need timely data now more than ever.”



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