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如何再造美国技术工人大军

Elizabeth G. Olson 2011年07月04日

目前美国就业前景整体低迷,而制造业却求贤如渴,业界抱怨,训练有素的工人太少了。

    6月13日,美国总统奥巴马参观了北卡罗来纳州达勒姆市的照明设备制造商克里公司(Cree, Inc),参观结束后,奥巴马总统就经济问题发表了演讲。

    之前,美国的中学几乎都设有机械车间,学生可以在这里学到基本的机械知识,这为初级制造业岗位的人才培养打下了基础。

    而现在,制造商们纷纷抱怨,求职者通常并不具备这种基础的车间工作技能,更不用说那些复杂和高级的制造工艺所要求的计算机技能,以及其他知识。而且,一些制造商也承认,制造业需要改变其在人们印象中低贱而单调的低端市场形象。

    捆扎固定装置制造商Click Bond公司联合创始人柯利•哈特表示:“其实制造业的工作并非单调的苦差事。人们有时候对制作业的看法存在偏见。”该公司位于内华达州卡森城市,主要为航空和其他交通市场生产工业紧固件。

    “我们车间内有125台电脑。我们配有复杂的设备。工人必须了解如何输入数据,如何进行计算,如何测量,以及如何记录和通信等。”

    但哈特和其他制造业的雇主都表示,尽管美国目前的失业率为9.1%,但制造业的工作岗位依然不受人待见。

    教育和培训不足,工作被外包到海外,或者企业未能提供在国内的工作岗位,到底是什么原因导致了这一现象?目前围绕这一问题争论激烈。对于造成制造业尴尬地位的罪魁祸首,美国经济评论员们众说纷纭;而且,在大起大落的经济环境下,依然没有一个解决方案,能够创造充足的工作岗位。

    在整个美国就业市场中,制造业的雇佣表现一直是个亮点。该行业的雇佣人数曾连续20个月持续上升,但在今年5月份开始下降。而美国全国制造商协会(National Association of Manufacturers)下属的制造业学会(Manufacturing Institute)表示,未来十年,预计需要工人数量最多的20个制造业岗位将要求求职者至少接受过中学程度的教育。在这些岗位中,包括高层管理人员,年均工资可达107,970美元,工业工程师的年均工资也可达到75,740美元。

    经济分析机构Chmura Economics & Analytics与美国劳工部(the U.S. Department of Labor)的数据显示,未来十年,这20个职业将提供超过100万个工作岗位——其中过半分布在高科技行业。这些岗位的平均工资远超过除医疗保健和社会救助之外的其他所有工作岗位。

    但这些岗位对技能的要求也在不断提高。制造业学会的数据显示,与2003年相比,同类岗位中今年要求更高级别技能的岗位数量增长了12%。

万能证书

    制造商们一致认为,要想帮助资格不达标的求职者填补目前和未来的职位空缺,第一步是增强培训,使求职者做好进入车间的准备。在行业和美国联邦政府的支持下,超过30个州正在为社区学院学生和制造业雇主推出最新的国家级认证系统。

    Not only has strong demand for tablet computers -- led by Apple's (AAPL) iPad -- cut into notebook PC sales, but it has started to be felt in the market for high-definition televisions.

    That's the thrust of a note issued Wednesday by Hudson Square Research's Daniel Ernst. The evidence:

    His weekly survey shows the average price per square inch of HDTVs down 23.4% year over year so far this month vs. the 18% decline he recorded in June 2010.

    He's been checking the stores and observed "thin activity" in the TV aisles, compared with "strong activity" for tablets and smartphones.

    Total worldwide TV unit sales were up only 0.9% in the first quarter of 2011, according to Display Search, vs. 17.4% in 2010. For HDTVs, first-quarter unit sales were up 8.9% year over year vs. 30.9% in 2010.

    Ernst acknowledges that the lack of activity in the TV aisles could be due in part to the time of year, and that the disaster in Japan and weak housing trends in the U.S. could also be factors.

    But it makes sense. A new gadget is a new gadget. And if you can watchThe Daily ShoworTrue Gritor Wimbledon in high-definition on a $500 tablet perched on your belly, you may not feel as compelled to spend $3,000 for a 55-inch TV set in your living room.

    制造商学会制定了一个认证系统,旨在协调社区学院与技术学院的课程和技术证书颁发机构,比如美国焊接工程协会(American Welding Society)等,以帮助人们获得证书或学位,或者两者兼得。

    与目前各州和教育界的努力相比,制造技能认证系统可以提供更统一的证书,并且这一计划已经获得了美国总统奥巴马的支持。在本月早些时候,奥巴马表示,他将采取措施帮助500,000名社区学院学生获得行业认可的证书。

    本月初,奥巴马总统在参观北弗吉尼亚社区学院(Northern Virginia Community College)时表示:“对于有招聘计划的公司来说,他们能明确地知道学生学位中所包含的特定培训内容。”他补充道:“毕业生也可以知道,他们在社区学院获得的文凭在就业市场中的价值。”

    美国政府也提出了一个培训计划,目的是在一年内培训10,000名工程类学生。本月早些时候,在参观北卡罗来纳州达勒姆的一家照明设施与组件制造商时,奥巴马总统表示,高科技企业的报告称目前具备必要的数学和计算机技能的求职者严重匮乏。

培训真的已经足够了吗?

    美国工程协会(American Engineering Association)等批评者反驳称,美国有大量的工程师随时待命,但却惨遭辞退,原因在于企业为了降低成本,倾向于雇佣更廉价的外国工程人员。但企业界却并不赞同这一说法,他们认为美国学校培养出的工程师很少有人能满足他们的实际需求。

    其他观点认为,这一类职业培训项目的范围太小,影响有限。威廉姆•J•荷尔斯泰因认为:“我们需要将目前社区学院的再培训项目扩大三倍或四倍,才能真正减少失业人数。我们得有‘大’的目标,而不能循序渐进。”荷尔斯泰因近期出版了一本新书《下一代美国经济》(The Next American Economy)。

    荷尔斯泰因也认为,美国的劳动力需要进行再培训,但并非所有培训和再培训都能发挥作用。许多培训项目都是在白费力气。

    针对如何解决就业难题,美国政府最新成立的就业委员会并没有提出开创性的解决方案,而只是老调重弹,比如为小企业提供贷款。这再次表明创造就业机会困难重重。

    该委员会被委以重任,需要制定出明确的应急措施,在未来两年内创建100万个工作岗位。而据美国商务部(U.S. Commerce Department)的统计显示,这个数字只占到美国国内消失的工作岗位的三分之一。

    对于获得全国认可的技能认证项目,部分优秀的行业巨头业纷纷表示支持,其中包括食品加工公司阿彻丹尼尔斯米德兰(Archer Daniels Midland)。

    公司负责人力资源的高级副总裁麦克•德安布罗斯解释道:“我们需要电工和焊工等技术工人,但是这些工人不好招。”

    ADM已经通过签约的方式,针对社会上的高需求岗位,帮助30,000位高危青少年获得所需要的证书,并对新入职员工进行例行培训。但德安布罗斯认为:“单凭这些努力,还是解决不了根本问题。”

    他表示,位于伊利诺伊州迪凯特的ADM公司与当地的社区学院和技术学院达成了合作,但公司同时也支持拓宽认证渠道,使证书的获取更为容易,同时更容易得到整个制造业的认可。

    而规模较小的Click Bond公司联合创始人柯利•哈特认为,多方协作至关重要。协作涉及的方面包括,对未来工作岗位类型的预测,以及如何确保社区学院为新工作岗位培养合适的人才,并让学生们为新的、未知的职业做好准备。

    制造学会总裁艾米丽•德洛克表示,认证项目“可培养更多具有便携式技能的高素质人才”。并且,270万婴儿潮一代在近十年内将退休,进而导致经验丰富的员工出现不足。而该项目可以抵消这一人才需求缺口。

    福赛斯技术社区学院(Forsyth Technical Community College)(位于北卡罗来纳州温斯顿塞勒姆市)的校长加里•格林表示,学院对课程进行了修订,以便与最新的制造技能系统保持一致。

    北卡罗来纳州的失业率高达9.7%,但格林表示:“企业希望员工具有更高的机械操作以及其他技能,足以操作重型设备,并胜任该州新兴的金属制造业工作。”

    归根结底,企业能否找到他们需要的工人才是关键。波士顿调查公司(Boston Consulting Group)在五月份公布的调查结果显示,企业高管认为,熟练的技术工人是“创新成功的最关键要素——也是最难获取的要素。”

    The Manufacturing Institute developed a credentialing system to coordinate programs in community and technical colleges with skills certificate-granting associations like the American Welding Society to assist people seeking a certificate or degree, or both.

    The Manufacturing Skills Certification system offers more uniform credentialing than current state or academic efforts, and it won the support of President Obama, who, earlier this month, said he would back an effort to help 500,000 community college students obtain industry-recognized credentials.

    "So if you're a company looking to hire, you'll know exactly what kind of training went into a specific degree," Obama said in an appearance earlier this month at Northern Virginia Community College. And graduates will know that the community college diploma they earn "will be valuable when you hit the job market," he added.

    The White House also proposed a program to train 10,000 engineering students a year. Speaking earlier this month at a A lighting fixture and component manufacturer in Durham, N.C., Obama said that high-tech businesses are reporting a scarcity of applicants who have the necessary math and computer skills.

    Is training really enough?

    Critics like the American Engineering Association counter that there are plenty of American engineers ready to work but have been laid off by companies eager to replace them with less costly foreign-born counterparts. But businesses argue that U.S. colleges are graduating too few engineers to meet their needs.

    Others say that such job training programs are too small to make a difference. "We need to triple and quadruple what we're doing at community colleges with retraining to really start moving the unemployment numbers," says William J. Holstein, author of the recently published book, The Next American Economy. "We need to think big, not incrementally."

    Holstein agrees that the American workforce needs retraining, but "not all kinds of training and retraining are effective. Much of it is wasted effort.

    The White House's new jobs council has offered familiar prescriptions to address the job conundrum like providing loans to small businesses, rather than proposing any cutting-edge solutions, underscoring just how difficult it is to create jobs.

    The council has been tasked with coming up with broad fixes to create 1 million jobs in the next two years. And that would only account for a third of the jobs that have disappeared from American soil, according to U.S. Commerce Department data.

    Some prominent industry giants, including food processor Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), have lined up behind the nationally recognized skills certificate program.

    "We have trouble finding those with skills we need like electricians and welders," explains Mike D'Ambrose, the company's senior vice president for human resources.

    ADM, which has signed on to help 30,000 high-risk teenagers earn credentials for high-demand jobs, routinely trains its new hires, but "that's not enough on its own," D'Ambrose acknowledges.

    The Decatur, Ill.-based company works with local community and technical colleges, he says, but it endorses the broader certificate approach to make credentials portable and recognized across the manufacturing industry.

    At the much smaller Click Bond, co-founder Collie Hutter argues that having such a coordinated effort could be key to forecasting what kinds of jobs are going to be created and ensuring that community colleges prepare students for new, as yet unknown, careers.

    Emily DeRocco, president of the Manufacturing Institute, says that the certificate program "will create a bigger pool of highly qualified people with skills that are portable" and help offset the looming shortage of well-trained workers due to the 2.7 million Baby Boomers expected to retire this decade.

    Gary Green, president of the Forsyth Technical Community College, in Winston-Salem, N.C., says his institution already has revamped its curriculum to align with the new manufacturing skills system.

    North Carolina is facing a steep 9.7% unemployment, but, Green says, "Companies want workers with higher levels of machining and other skills to work on heavy equipment and other metal manufacturing that has moved to the state."

    It all comes down to whether companies can find the workers they need. According to a Boston Consulting Group survey published in May, company executives say skilled workers are "the single most critical element of innovation success -- and the hardest to acquire."

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