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Readers Respond: What is a Skilled Worker, Exactly?

June 20, 2012
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Quality LinkedIn Discussion Group members discuss the skills shortage in U.S. manufacturing, and debate just what a skilled worker entails.



Quality magazine LinkedIn Discussion Group members have their own take on the skills shortage in U.S. manufacturing. Recently, several members of the group debated what exactly a skilled worker entails.
Barry Lucas, president & CEO at FFD, Inc.: “Would you consider someone who assembles parts a skilled worker? Some folks seem to consider an assembler-or someone that I can easily instruct or train how to do a job--as an unskilled asset.”

Patty Remmell, technical writer at Kelly Engineering Resources: “I'm not an exec, but not everyone can do assembly. I'm also not sure how assemblers would fall into the unskilled category if that's the case. Are we perhaps lumping these "unskilled" workers into that category to justify low wages?”

Sathish Kumar Thantri, senior manager at SDCI and EHS in Bangalore: “ Every job requires a certain amount of skill. When we categorize [workers], it is really based on the amount of training we have to impart to acquire these "skills" differentiates,” he says. “Organization to organization, it varies. You decide on what is right to the organization and proceed. In some countries like India, these categories have different pay scales as per the government rules, if the organizations will be paying as per the minimum wages assigned. So the categorization should be carefully done.”

Sangram Jadhav, senior engineer of quality at Lear Corp: “Those who can describe the assembly but need more training to perform it are unskilled,” he says. “Those who can perform the assembly under some supervision and need some training are semi skilled. Third category is skilled, i.e., [when workers can] perform assembly without any supervision or independently. And the last category is highly skilled, i.e. [when workers can] perform the assembly independently without any supervision and any defects and can train others in the assembly process.”

Jeff Pfouts, CMM operator / CMM programmer at Kovatch Castings Inc.: “Creating a skilled workforce is a community responsibility,” he says. As a society we are responsible to teach our potential workers skills, demonstrate ethics, and encourage responsibility. As a society we are responsible to give those potential workers opportunities to enjoy a standard of living above poverty level through jobs. And in return, those potential workers are responsible to society to contribute by learning skills and applying them ethically and responsibly.

“There are so many definitions of skilled vs. unskilled and all kinds of shades of gray in between. I suspect that the more encompassing the definition of unskilled becomes the greater the perceived positive impact on the bottom line of those who sole focus in on making the greatest possible profit.”

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What is a skilled worker

Chuck Chamberlain
June 27, 2012
A skilled worker is one who knows how to perform a task within the alloted time and without direction and when something new comes along knows where to go to get the correct information to perform their task correctly.

What is a skilled worker

Tom Judge
June 28, 2012
Every job no matter what has its skills. Some skills take a short time, others take longer. Whether you flip burgers or build nuclear power stations there is a skill to what you do. Companies refer to a skill shortage when they have difficulty finding people with a particular skill and it take more time than they have to train. What they should be looking for is versatile people. That is people who can switch for one function to another with minimal training. This can be achieved with a continuous training program, moving people in order to develop al wide skill base. And pay people for their versatility not just for the skill they happen to be using in any given day.

Skilled Workers

Larry
June 28, 2012
When job skills are used to justify wages, it muddies the waters of just what a job is worth. How many people need to make a profit off the labor the the assembler? When one job becomes so much more valuable to a company than another and the profits made from an "assembler" job is more than the combined cost to the company those extra profits seem to be distributed unfairly. It depends on how the check signers see the value of the assemblers. Are trash collectors unskilled, thus justifying lower wages? How about when the trash is piling up in your backyard, do they suddenly become more skilled then (and thus worth more?)??? I worked in IT for many years and always had a hard time understanding how they justify the big IT salaries for some while others (who are doing the "unskilled/semi-skilled/skilled/highly skilled" jobs) get the lower salaries. There just seemed to be too many employees collecting the bigger paychecks while contributing less to the bottom line of the company than those who build/service/ship the products. But you can consolidate companies/employees and move the profits to one small group of employees and there you have it the MEGA-SKILLED employee who did what?

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