Michiana manufacturer testifies before Congress
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congresswoman Jackie Walorski invited a representative from Smoker Craft, Inc. in New Paris to testify before Congress on Thursday about the growing worker shortage.
Walorski highlighted this recent Wall Street Journal article about Elkhart’s worker shortage before asking Peter Barrett, Smoker Craft’s senior vice president of marketing and corporate development, what the toughest challenge for Smoker Craft is right now: Finding workers? Teaching them skills? Or retaining them?
Barrett said all three are ‘exceptionally difficult.’
He said his company, which manufactures boats, is trying to keep up with a demand that is great for business, but only if there are enough workers.
“Today our backlog is 20 percent larger than last year,” Barrett said. “Unfortunately we’ll be challenged to meet that demand and we’ll struggle to continue to grow if we cannot find skilled employees. Our current employment situation is troubling. And the future looks even worse.”
Barrett was one of several job creators from across the country who testified before the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee on Thursday.
He told an emotional story about a 20-year employee at Smoker Craft telling Barrett on Monday that he was leaving the company for a job across town that paid $10 more an hour.
It was just one example of the challenges manufacturers are facing.