COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Where are all the employees? – “No one wants to work”

Gary Kennedyby Gary Kennedy

If you drive around the state of Maine you will notice everywhere, “Now Hiring.” Even on the back door of most tractor trailers you see the words, “Drivers Wanted.” Yet there are those who state there is no work to be found. Well, it is true most of these offers are for non professional, low paying jobs. However, that has changed somewhat because of the laws of supply and demand. Many of the jobs that didn’t pay much yesterday are very attractive today. Companies need employees so direly they are opting to offer a very nice wage compared to yesterday’s standards. Teachers should be researching this area for the future of their students.

This article and research was prompted by my recent visit to Sears at Cook’s Corner, in Brunswick. I brought my vehicle there for a tire check and rotation. I noticed there was only one person working in the garage. I spoke with the manager, Jeff Perkins, and asked him what was going on with his labor force. He replied, “No one wants to work and those who do want more than we can pay. They know that they can work out of their garage and make more money and at the same time, be their own boss.” There is some freedom in that persuasion; you can work your own hours and at your own speed, and at the same time you get to keep all the money and pay no taxes. There are a couple of things wrong here; one, you aren’t paying your share of taxes and, two, you are interfering with the balance of things.

Maine has a depleted work force as it is. My two sons are Master Masons, living in Florida, as they can live in a nice weather situation and they can make far more money there than they can here. My daughter was head chef at a restaurant in the resort area of the mountains of Idaho. Now she owns a gourmet restaurant with her husband. My boys and daughter have employees and pay taxes somewhere else. I miss them, but I understand why they left Maine. In my opinion, in Maine we should have learned some good lessons by now with the advent of a forest rich state with paper and lumber mills closing. Also, look at textiles, we had so many factories producing leather products, cloth and clothing as well as shoes, etc.; where have they gone?

They are only memories now with Maine becoming a medical service state with computer overtones. Everyone seems to want to be a geek and not a mechanic, carpenter, electrician, plumber or machinist. What’s happening and how do we change it? I interviewed Rick Larrabee, a part owner in Mid Coast Calibration Company, which is a machine shop. He stated he travels all over the country and everyone is in dire need of machinists, and they pay a professional wage, with benefits.

One of the lowest paying jobs is companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts at $10 per hour to start. There are some construction flaggers being paid $12 to $15 per hour. The benefits aren’t there but the wage is and growing because of the lack and quality of applicants. We must teach that benefits and the future are very important to those of the future work force.

Retail stores are starting at $10 to $11 per hour. These wages are much higher than a couple of years ago. Good for a second job but no benefits. We also need to think about our time with family.

I had the pleasure of meeting a very innovative administrator at Capital Technical School, Jim Holland. He graciously agreed to speak with me. Although they are having great success with their students it remains to have limited enrollment in proportion to state needs. There are 26 tech schools in this area. But in my opinion the numbers are far too small for our needs. Classes are only 10 to 15 students at a time. Enrollment is down slightly from the norm to 388 students. Everything is based on populations; which is another area for review. Maine has tittered around a population of a million and a half people for decades now. We are losing our children/grandchildren to another state that pays more; we need to learn to be more competitive.

We also need to vote and know who we are voting for, and what they really stand for. That can only be done by searching their history. We have so many kids running for office when we need to be looking for maturity and experience as well as their previous track record.

Well, I’ll leave that part of it up to my readers and the parents who influence the children’s direction. Just remember there is a very large market out there in the trades and we need that badly. Those kinds of jobs now pay more than many jobs we consider professional and offer benefits. It takes a pretty smart person to plumb a house or wire one. Think about it!

Now is really the time to think about your vote. When I think of Harvard, for example, I think of billionaire Bill Gates who dropped out to become the founder of Microsoft; also Steve Jobs, loved by millions, known for Xerox applications and the IPods, phone industry, a billionaire, who also dropped out of Reed College his first year.

You can be who and what you want without the Ivy League touch. That charisma is dying. I never regretted my educational path and I wasn’t rich, so no Harvard, just the university system and military schools. This election year, please vote and choose wisely. You can find the answers in your computers or at your local library. Be part of it all; your children’s futures and our state of Maine are at stake. God bless.

Community Commentary is a forum The Town Line makes available for citizens to express their opinions on subjects of interest to our readers. The Town Line welcomes, and encourages, supportive comments, differing opinions, counterpoints or opposing views. Keep the rebuttals positive, and informative. Submissions containing personal attacks will be rejected.

 
 

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