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Need to Know: February 1, 2013: Manufacturing jobs

The nation’s unemployment rate has been hovering just below eight percent for months — that means about twelve million Americans are jobless and looking for work. Yet at the same time, firms nationwide say they’re having a hard time filling nearly four million job openings.

The mismatch is known as the “skills gap”: Would-be employers say they can’t find workers who have the specific skills they’re looking for. Correspondent Rick Karr traveled to Mobile, Alabama to look at one effort to close that gap.

Read the transcript.

What’s on this week:

Manufacturing jobs

Need to Know looks at Alabama’s efforts to train a new generation of shipyard workers to fight unemployment and attract business to the state

Interview: Peter Cappelli

Peter Cappelli, is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at The Wharton School and Director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources and author of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It.

American voices: George Wentworth

George Wentworth, a senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project, on the new laws in several states prohibiting hiring discrimination against the unemployed.

Ask the experts

Is there a skills gap? Dr. Anthony P. Carnevale of Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and Fred Dedrick, Executive Director of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions weigh in.

Tales from the “new normal”

Need to Know’s audience shares tales of seeking work in a “jobless recovery”. Tell us how you’re employment situation has changed and what you think can help — education, training, tax breaks?

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.


  • Kim Forbes-Gayton

    I can’t help but observe that employers want to have their cake and eat it too: They want skilled, ( at least/ only) 3 – 5 years experience (telling as to what their pay expectations are), yet they also expect/demand perfection (in appearance, personal compatibility and skill set) at a job without any training. That’s unrealistic! Even from at least an acculturation point of view, some training is vital if the employee is going to fit, let alone be clear as to how things are done on a work site or office! ! I am also sick to death of hearing about discrimination against the long-term unemployed, let alone unemployed for any amount of time! You’d think the applicant was asking to just take up residence at the employer’s site or office! The applicant WANTS/NEEDS TO WORK! Who’s sick mindset started this “Highly experienced, educated/qualified = too costly. Yet, “Experience, qualified, but unemployed = skill set may be soft or the person may have been let go because of something (possibly) adverse in the person’s work history.” Do you want qualified, experienced workers or not? What IS it going to be?

  • Mtm

    This state of Alabama funded training plan is just another corporate con on state and federal taxpayers. Corporations keep their costs low and let the state pay for training not to mention the tax break they are probably getting. Just another handout to corps.

  • Anonymous

    I have never seen a better report that proves PBS out of touch with business, economics, and politics and justifies withholding of voluntary contributions to your reporting! I was asleep and woke to discover I’d not turned off the television before your Maria Hinojosa so thoroughly ignored UNIONS as a feature of labor economics. How could ANY reporter compare the relocation of shipbuilding from an intensely unionized state like Pennsylvania to an anti-union state like Alabama with total disregard for collective bargaining as a right rather than privilege? This was perhaps the most vivid example of the most outrageous kind of class bias I have ever seen on any medium in this country.
    Thank you so much for such an excellent reason to contribute funds to other media than PBS. And thank you, particularly, Ms. Hinojosa, for disregarding the racism, classism, and regressive politics of today’s economics.

  • russblake

    I watched with interest the situation with Pensylvania loosing thousands of jobs for skilled ship workers and Alabama not have enough skilled ship workers and having to train them. Here in vermont we had a similar situation on a smaller scale where a local machine shop moved to North Carolina. Hundreds of jobs were lost in Vermont and the new plant in North Carolina was having a hard time to find enough qualified people to fill their needs. One of the biggest problems that the now un-employeed Vermont families faced was the transition of uprooting their families from the only home they had ever known which had deep family roots and moving to an unknown area. It was a very scarry option for them which many were not willing to take.
    I feel that there needs to be a better method available to help people face this transition. Their needs to find housing in a suitable neighborhood with good schools and very importantly, a way for them to meet new people and make new friends is vital.

  • DK

    The employers are all waiting for congress to grant visas to graduating students. American workers are not wanted, since they are free to consider the competition.

  • Kidd

    Employers can fuck off.

  • Anonymous

    the lamestream media over time convinced the younger gens that a college degree was the way to prosperety (money) they forgot that someone has the shovel the sh*t

    long ago companies used to offer apprentiships in many of the trades

  • the_other_reality

    This is very sad that this has occurred and will continue to occur to worker as companies move from union-based states to right-to-work states such as Alabama and Mississippi (the new “heart” of ship building). There are two problems that has arisen from this (1) lower skill = lower quality (2) the sub-culture of society in the southern states have different work ethics than than northerners. These factors have led to a disconnect between management and employees. The result is the NAVY and other government entities that have contracted with these companies have taken command of newly commissioned ships from these ship yards that must be “repaired” in other ship yards with more skilled labor forces before they can be considered seaworthy. The new question is, how much is this costing the tax payer while these private companies are seeing steady increases in profits?

  • David Schnur

    Not to mention that once you devalue the work force they are eligable for public assstance, and in the end, this is another subsidy for corporations, and big box retailers.

  • Mike Mathwig

    The company should pay for and do training. It is thier profit. It is thier business. It is they who are the super minds that move around the world and are, (seeming to), run it. They want super profit on the alter of the share holder? Produce it! That isn’t my job. I’m not trained for it, REMEMBER!!?