Ships, cars, bridges, pipelines, high rises, and seemingly everything else important to the world’s infrastructure depends on welding at some point in the manufacturing process. The fact is, building and maintaining this modern world of ours requires welding. As such, the importance of the welding industry cannot be overstated. But what if the pool of skilled workers, to populate this critical industry, is drying up?
The Labor Shortage
As you’ve probably heard a thousand times by now, the United States is facing a shortage of skilled labor. The average age of welders is climbing and, as these workers begin to retire, they are leaving behind an increasing number of empty positions. Unfortunately the new generation entering the workforce has shown a distinct lack of interest in these newly available manufacturing jobs. Experts are predicting a deficit in the range of 400,000 welders within the next couple of years.
So how do you avoid the detrimental effects of this welder shortage? How does a growing industry cope with a shrinking workforce?
The solution lies in technology. Specifically, it lies in using technology to boost productivity for existing workers and reduce the barriers of entry for new ones. The good news is that equipment manufacturers are already hard at work developing new products to achieve these goals.
The welding industry needs new workers, and it needs them sooner rather than later. As organizations like the American Welding Society continue their efforts to attract young people to the industry, equipment manufacturers are working to improve the process of training them into skilled welders. Efforts are focused on making equipment easier to learn and use while, at the same time, finding innovating new ways to teach the necessary skills. Simpler power sources, intuitive automation interfaces, and even augmented reality training simulators have been introduced to the market to create shorter and more effective training periods for new welders.
Automation is the future of manufacturing, it should be used to compliment the abilities of welders. As the workforce shortage continues to increase, so does the value of skilled labor. Every experienced welder is important, and their time and productivity should be maximized as much as possible. Advanced power sources, high productivity welding torches, collaborative robots, and various forms of fixed/flexible automation offer the promise of higher productivity and better quality. The days when these systems were only accessible to large companies for high production environments are quickly fading into the past. More than that, the return on investment for many of these products makes them on obvious choice.
While the workforce shortage is not something to be taken lightly, the situation may not be as dire as it appears. The immediate solution is to weld faster and equipment manufacturers are introducing a host of new technologies to do just that. High productivity equipment like SpinArc welding torches, collaborative robots, and affordable automation are all working to ensure that the welding industry can make the best possible use of whatever workforce is available to it. Meanwhile; augmented reality training, easier-to-use power sources, and intuitive automation interfaces are making it easier than ever for new workers to learn the trade and get involved in the industry.