Manufacturing jobs outpacing skilled workers - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Manufacturing jobs outpacing skilled workers

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Sparks fly as welders at Davron Technologies in Chattanooga build a large specialized oven.

Not your typical baker, this one melts raw material.

President Ronald Speicher calls it a specialized industry that appeals to a lot of overseas companies.

"They are affected," Speicher says. "They don't grow or shut their plants, and we lose opportunity."

That opportunity is what Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) hopes to seize here in Tennessee.

He met with manufacturing leaders with a message from Washington.

He says in order to grow the manufacturing sector you have to have the right people.

"The single biggest obstacle to more manufacturing jobs in Tennessee is more skilled workers," says Alexander.

Tennessee expects 21,000 new manufacturing jobs in the next five years. More than 4,000 of those would be right here in our region.

During the first half of last year, manufacturing jobs made up 16-percent of new jobs, but fell flat after June.

Tim Spires with the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturers Association says, "If we become complacent we will lose out. This is a challenge we need to rise up for or we will start to lose out."

Speicher says years ago when manufacturers struggled he didn't know if he would survive. 

Alexander says part of the problem is states can't meet the demand for skilled workers, but Chattanooga has remained ahead of the curve.

Speicher says for now, the nightmare is over.

"There were several sleepless nights, but once the economy turned around, we have more than what we did before the tough times."

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