Industrious Learning

An Idaho technician represents the unorthodox path to repair job success

The manufacturing skills gap has created a mad rush for skilled technical workers. Filling this void has no clear solution, but empty jobs require workers…workers that don’t necessarily need a full skill set when they first start. As it turns out, many people are learning on the job.

In this case, take a look at the repair sector as it pertains to south-central Idaho. This report details how industrial machinery mechanics are in high demand. It profiles Steve Nunes, a technician who mainly repairs dairy machines and other electrical apparatus in that industry, but mentions how the man has learned a number of other skills—such as electric motor repair—just from being on the job. Nunes, who works for Automated Dairy Systems in Jerome, Idaho, is now fluent in welding, plumbing and electrical and refrigeration systems repair. He got his electrical training as an apprentice through the College of Southern Idaho. According to most people you ask—including the (outgoing) government—apprenticeships are going to be integral in compensating for the skills gap.

Nunes has worked with Automated Dairy Systems for more than six years, starting out in the service department doing maintenance. While workers like this face the challenge of little to no experience, they stand to benefit from certifications and training offered. Many state labor departments can provide an “industrial machinery mechanics” classification including workers who repair, install, adjust or maintain industrial production and processing machinery or refinery and pipeline distribution systems.

Industrial machinery mechanics are projected to grow by 47 percent from 2014 to 2024, according to a state Hot Jobs list for Idaho. “The typical entry-level wage in south-central Idaho is $18.69 per hour. The median wage is $23.82, and experienced pay is $30.55. The only formal education usually required is a high school diploma. However, employers may require other skills or certification, especially for those interested in moving into management,” writes Heather Kennison of the Times-News, a Twin Falls, Idaho publication.

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