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California Manufacturers Ready To Hire, But Are Applicants Ready To Work?

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An assembly line inside a Ford manufacturing plant.

An assembly line inside a Ford manufacturing plant.

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – One trend keeping unemployment high two years after the official end of the recession is American companies’ willingness to invest in technology and labor saving equipment to avoid the often costly process of hiring and training people.

Economist Jerry Nickelsburg with the UCLA Anderson Forecast believes many unemployed Californians lack the right skill set to land jobs available in today’s technologically driven manufacturing sector.

“The traditional skills that one would develop to go into manufacturing to assemble, say, automobiles or aircraft are not applicable to today’s manufacturers,” he said.

KCBS’ Melissa Culross Reports:

California firms that find their equipment or software in high demand because companies now prefer capital improvements over workforce development cannot find qualified workers, Nickelsburg said.

He estimates some 300,000 people in the construction trades, for example, would need additional training to be eligible for advanced manufacturing positions.

Nickelsburg’s solution to such structural unemployment would have the state investing in community colleges and certificate programs that focus on usable job skills.

“We really do need to focus on appropriate job skills and appropriate training and education. And I think we can do a lot more of that.”

California unemployment was just below 12 percent in April and one-third of those looking for a job had been out of work for a year or longer.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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