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Weary workers, health care will boost staffing up.

Metalworkers, like other manufacturers, may be able to avoid filling staff positions with permanent hires for the short term, but a strengthening economy, changes in health care coverage that employers may have to offer, and their own competitive needs will change that.

Right now employers are pushing overtime to record levels, hiring hourly workers, but holding back on staff hiring, says Alan Pearson of Personnel Consultants, a Ft Thomas, KY, placement firm.

But there's only so much you can do with overtime and temporaries, because basically, sooner or later, your people wear out, he believes.

And there will be other reasons why hiring of manufacturing and production engineers and other staff people will pick up. Once the shape of the national health policy is apparent, employers will have to offer some form of health insurance benefit coverage to all of their employees.

"You are going to see a significant reduction in employers utilizing contract and temporary workers because the basic motivation--avoiding the health care cost burden in their benefit package--will disappear," says Mr Pearson. "Metalworking managers may just as well hire people on a permanent basis at that point. There are more advantages to having them on your staff."

Mary Scheuerman, executive search consultant, Peter Cahill Associates, Cheshire, CT, agrees that there is some reluctance at the higher reaches of organizations to complete the search process.

"We conducted a search for an engineering supervisor for a company that called us with an urgent need. They had never had one before, but just knew that they needed one now. We completed the search, came up with several excellent candidates, but couldn't get the company to follow through with the interviews. They were simply too busy with their day-to-day business activities," she says.

Ms Scheuerman feels that companies are being extremely selective about who they hire. "They want candidates that are perfect matches to the selection criteria,

who can hit the ground running and produce from the first day on the job," she says.

Employers are taking their time and going about the process very slowly. "They want all of the skills and even the extras like personality factors, initiative, energy level, and even philosophy to be a perfect fit," she adds.

One area of demand is for anyone who has hands-on experience with ISO 9000 certification. "What is needed is expertise at the implementation level, manufacturing engineering and quality control. Everybody wants SPC, TQM, but ISO is the one that's hardest to fill today. People with ISO experience, except at the higher levels of director and so on, are just hard to find." And obviously they're a valuable commodity.

Speaking of value, there is sufficient incentive early in this recovery for MEs to look around for more money and responsibility. And they are doing it, says Alan Pearson. "At this stage, manufacturers are looking for people who can make product and do it efficiently and effectively. Staffers in the $35,000 to $55,000 salary range are in demand, including manufacturing engineers, industrial engineers, and some supervisory personnel."

Relocation benefits vary widely from company to company, but companies who want someone badly enough, or are in a position where they need someone badly enough, will pay to relocate candidates.

Typical cost to companies can range from bare minimum of paying for the moving van to paying for closing costs on houses sold and bought, paying for temporary housing for several months, and even to paying signing bonuses of $1000 to $5000 to help defray out-of-pocket expenses. Total costs to companies can run from under $10,000 to as much as $40,000.

Job searches

Alan Pearson is currently conducting job searches for an ME with "tooling and production" experience, an ME and tooling engineer, supervisor of equipment design, various chemical engineers, an ME for a plastics company, a plant manager for an automotive plastics company, and a manager of engineering. "There are always open job orders similar to these that we are trying to fill. A lot of MEs are looking, and the ratio of employed candidates to unemployed ones looking for new positions is greater and growing."

Mary Scheuerman is currently conducting job searches for metal fabricating companies such as HVAC, sensor, hardware, stamping, and spring and bearing manufacturers. "We're looking for an engineering supervisor, applications and sales engineers. There seems to be a real scarcity of people with a technical background who are interested or have the aptitude to communicate with people in a sales capacity," she says. And the opportunities aren't bad ones either, with salaries of $50,000 and up.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Lorincz, James A.
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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