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PCB-May2017

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14 The PCB Magazine • May 2017 facilities (Source: FabFile Online, 2017). Sub- tract the organizations with multiple facilities plus the companies with primary operations in other countries but may have a plant or two in the U.S., and the real number is closer to 200. I have been tracking this trend for 20 years and predicting the future state-of-the-industry dur- ing my lectures. This year at IPC APEX EXPO, my projections for the number of "real" North American operations was 165 operations in 2020 and 100 in 2025. I have been fairly accu- rate over the years, and if these numbers hold up, it will be staggering. Breaking it down re- gionally is particularly instructive as it relates to this issue (Figure 1). Depending on where your shop is located, Figure 1 highlights the dwindling talent pool from which to pull from. Another recent discus- sion with my friend Dave reinforced this truth. Dave is also a printed circuit board shop owner with multiple facilities. One of his shops is in an area that used to be a mecca of PCB manufactur- ing, but now finds himself one of the last men standing due to acquisitions, consolidations and closures. Finding local experienced PCB employ- ees is next to impossible and he now competes with tech companies offering office jobs and plush environments. His biggest problem used to be losing a skilled worker to the local competition for $0.50 more an hour, a problem he would love to have back! College is a path, not a right! A changing society is as much to blame as any- one for the lack of bench strength in our U.S. man- ufacturing companies. Any young person will probably tell you that col- lege is not a privilege; it is a right. (If you really want to blow your mind, ask them who they think should pay for it.) Not to paint all young people with an overly broad brush, as there are plen- ty of hard-working kids with their heads on straight, but compared to past generations, they are a bit of an entitled bunch. Remember the aforementioned hard work, dues paying and understanding that you have to earn what you want? Not so much with today's youth. Right out of college they expect a cushy desk job with an office and a high salary because they paid their dues just by going to college. I don't blame the kids; I blame the educa- tional system that teaches them from a very ear- ly age that college is the only choice, and that they are entitled to it. Remember when col- lege was just one of three potential paths that high school graduates could pursue? The oth- er choices were the trades or to enter the gen- eral workforce, both providing just as many op- portunities, if not more, than the college path. Contrary to what our children are being taught, college is not for everyone, and certainly not for every job. What we have now is an awful lot of college-educated 20−30-somethings ask- ing, "Do you want fries with that?" or choos- ing to live in Mom and Dad's basement because getting their hands dirty in a factory job is be- neath them. I remember guidance counselors FINDING THE NEXT GENERATION OF BOARD RATS Figure 1: California remains home to the single largest concentration of U.S. PCB fabricators.

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