Skilled labor shortage affects Austin manufacturers ‘across the board’

A worker at a company that manufactures electrical components on Sept. 27 (KXAN Photo/Jorge Rodas)
A worker at a company that manufactures electrical components on Sept. 27 (KXAN Photo/Jorge Rodas)

AUSTIN (KXAN) —  A nationwide shortage in skilled laborers is straining Austin area manufacturers hoping to grow.

Tom Lonsdale started Cypress Industries almost two decades ago and has grown more than he ever thought possible. The company manufactures electrical components for use in many different applications.

He fears the future generation of workers aren’t considering manufacturing and may be missing out on opportunities.

“I saw a banner on Burnet the other day that ‘Our Goal Is 100% Of Austin Students To Go Into College.'” Lonsdale said. “Well, I don’t think college is for every kid, and if you can go out and get a job making 50, 60, 70 — 80,000 dollars a year with a one of two-year degree, that’s a lot better avenue for a lot of kids.”

A state website tracking job opportunities in Texas shows right now there are over 8,000 manufacturing jobs statewide. There are 760 right here in Travis County.

“It’s kind of hard to find good technicians and people who understand exactly what they’re doing,” Dwayne Dawson said.

He is in the process of being hired at Cypress Industries. Dawson moved from the Carolinas just a few months ago for the job opportunity. He’s always amazed at the amount of jobs available for technicians like himself and hopes younger people learn the skills needed to land one of those thousands of jobs available.

Ed Latson is executive director of the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association, a collection of area manufacturers. He says the battle to find skilled workers starts with developing them in our schools.

“In the legislature there’s been some bills passed to help bring back vocational training and support for that in schools,” Latson said.

For now, Dwayne and his coworkers will have to work longer hours to keep up with demand as manufacturing continues its growth. He admits it’s a lot of work.

“It is, but we enjoy it,” Dawson said.

KXAN’s Jorge Rodas is LIVE at the Palmer Events Center on KXAN News Today with details of manufacturers’ concerns.

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