EMERY P. DALESIO
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) â¿¿ For more than two years, Danny Moses has been working as an assembly technician at a Goldsboro defense contractor. Then he found out that AAR Corp. really needed welders, and training for that job required a 90-day certificate program.
That sounded like a good deal, said Moses, 36, of Goldsboro.
"The main thing was money, but I love a challenge," Moses said. "Anything I could do working with my hands, I love it."
AAR's CEO David Storch visited the company's Goldsboro plant Thursday to draw attention to what Moses represents â¿¿ good jobs are available now to workers who earn the specific technical skills and certifications some employers need.
The parts and service supplier for military and commercial aircraft has 600 job vacancies nationwide for aircraft mechanics, welders, painters, machine operators and other positions. It needed to hire 100 certified welders in Goldsboro by the end of this year to meet production targets.
AAR worked with North Carolina community colleges to train workers in 90 days for a welding certification that qualified them to work on making specialized aircraft cargo containers that transport military kitchens, sleeping quarters and water treatment gear.
Manufacturing companies are struggling to fill a need for workers who have technical knowledge and skills that don't require a university degree, Storch said.
"There's a tendency in our country to put a lot of emphasis around a four-year college degree. But you know, there's a lot of four-year-college-degreed people out there without jobs," he said. "If you look at my company, I've got all the four-year-college-degreed people I need. What I need is these mid-skills positions to be filled so I can produce product that people actually want to buy."
The so-called skills gap that retards AAR from peak production is a national problem biting manufacturers as they replace unskilled workers with automation. The tasks that still require human hands require technical skills lacking even though millions are unemployed and desperate.