Machinists, mechanics needed in local businesses, says survey

By JASON COX Of the Keizertimes Local employers are having trouble finding qualified machinists and mechanics to build and repair equipment, a survey of area businesses shows. Nearly one-third of fabricated metal manufacturers in Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties told the Oregon Employment Department that they were struggling to find qualified workers in 2011. The results, released this month in a report called “What Employers Need,” said hands-on skills and experience were becoming difficult to find for many employers. Workers skilled in machine use are among the most valued, according to the report. That statement bears out at G&S Machine on Cherry Avenue, which does general repair – “you break it, we fix it kind of a deal,” according to company president Mike Gatchet. “Manual machinists are getting to be a dinosaur,” Gatchet said. “They’re hard to find. Everyone’s teaching them in school how to program and run off a computer. It’s hurting the industry.” When it comes to that line of work, Gatchet said, there’s simply no substitute for experience. “A lot of it is common sense – someone who can think outside the dots as far as getting something fixed in a reasonable amount of time and being able to put it back together without costing myself and the customer a lot of money,” Gatchet said. “… You’re not going to learn that anywhere other than inside...

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