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jobs in america

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Narrow fabrics industry faces a shortage of people who “get it”

December 15th, 2017 / By: IFAI / Industry News, News

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https://specialtyfabricsreview.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2017/11/FDfeed2-300x225.jpgClose-up of the yarn feed on Fabdesigns’ Stoll CMS ADF-3 flat knitting machines. Stoll introduced the machine in October 2013. Photo: Fabdesigns.

According to textile engineer Connie Huffa, the last year she taught at Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science (1998), less than 5 percent of the students were studying textiles and the following year the college changed its name to Philadelphia University. This year, the school merged with Thomas Jefferson University, which focuses on health sciences.

“It had been the premier textile college in the United States,” notes Huffa, co-owner of textiles innovation center Fabdesigns in Malibu, Calif., which has been in business since 1988.

“The main issue [facing narrow fabrics companies] is that the people who know how to jockey a machine are retiring,” she says. “These are people who know how to listen and hear it running well or not and make minor tweaks that are needed—especially for medical, military and aerospace applications. They spend years and apprenticeships honing their talents. And in today’s corporate world, we’ve seen them be the first fired in a merger or acquisition because they lack a college degree.

“We are running out of people who know how to use their hands and not just a computer,” she continues. “There are fewer and fewer people who want to learn the details. They think of these machines as printers—that everything is easy. Put any kind of yarn in and what they want comes out. When they ask how long it takes to know what they are doing on the machines and we tell them a couple of years and even then they might not have seen everything, their eyes glaze over.

“I’m not sure we can overcome the challenge, except to appreciate and respect the people in our industry that we have left and help them pass on their knowledge to the next generation of genuinely interested makers.”

It is my observed opinion that young people for quite some time have not been taught to think while attending grade school and that is the problem. When these young people start working they get just so far in their job and then they quit because they have gotten to the point of having to think about what they are doing and very few accept that challenge. This is the reason you see on their resume a list of 10 or more jobs by the time they are 25 years old. Learning is a concept they have yet to accomplish.

I use bar tack machines in my factory and whenever I have a problem there is only one company located in Long Island City, N.Y. that I call because it is the only company in the country that I know of that works on bar tack machines; and the owner is about 91 or 92. He has not retired because he needs something to do daily. He is concerned that the few men who work for him will not have a job when he dies. I know from speaking with him that he had tried to hire and train new people over the years but no one wanted to put in the time required to apprentice.

My generation and subsequent generations have been told to use your brains and not brawn. What I learned is a simple fact of life brawn does nothing if the brain does not direct it as to what to do. Whatever anyone labors at you chose the job if the brain does not direct the arms nothing is accomplished.

When I walk around my factory and watch the people who work at Wiggy’s I see excellent work and I know that these people have acquired an ability to do their job because they have used their minds to understand what they have to accomplish. They are and make no mistake about it trained, experienced, knowledgeable people who are professional in every way in doing their jobs. They would not be so experienced if they did not comprehend how to sew or cut material. They are skilled versus some politician referring to these people as unskilled labor, shame on the politicians who say things like that, it just clarifies to me that they the politicians are the ones who do not think.

The problem is that the politicians have created a world for the youth of America that views work that requires labor to be viewed as beneath them. So, we have generations today that have no skills or an interest in gaining any. These politicians can talk all they want about bringing jobs back to America all they want, the problem is why if there is no ready work force to be employed.

The above article is the very first I have read that so clearly describes what people who own businesses face in this day and age in the U.S.A., is it any wonder why companies chose not to return to the U.S.A. to produce.

Maybe 2018 will be a new year and will result in some production returning; I wonder.

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