Tag Archives: economy

Keystone Threaded Products Company and the Effect of Lower Oil Prices

Last month global oil prices had fallen to significant new lows, leading to shockingly deleterious revenue shortfalls in many countries which rely on the exportation of energy for their economic well-being. Meanwhile, North American consumers have been enjoying substantial savings in the purchase of petroleum fuels for such needs as home heating or for the operation of motor vehicles, to name just a few of the areas where direct savings have materialized due to plummeting oil prices.

It wasn’t that long ago that we were seeing stable (and elevated) oil prices at about $110 per barrel. Since last June though, prices have been cut in half as new sources of North American energy have been exploited and as there has been less demand as a result of slowed or arrested economic growth in many parts of the world.

Despite the pain that is felt in some sectors, many economists believe that there are winners in a time of cheaper oil and they’re not just consumers. Though they estimate that the economic activity of oil companies and related businesses could slow by about $150 billion this year, they also note that in other areas of the economy an increase of around $400 billion is quite conceivable.  Just looking at the numbers it becomes clear that the good outweighs the bad (for now). This is all calculated to have a net effect that is twice the annual value of the payroll tax cuts that occurred in 2011 and 2012, both of which spurred sizeable boosts to consumer spending.

One company that certainly can benefit from lower oil prices is Keystone Threaded Products Company, a family owned and operated firm that has been manufacturing quality threaded parts since 1920. It takes energy for Keystone to manufacture their line of standard threaded products. Contact Keystone Threaded today to see how you can enjoy both product quality and the substantial cost savings from lower oil prices when you stock up on their top-notch threaded parts.

What is the skills gap, and how do we overcome it?

As American companies such as us here at Keystone Threaded Products Company, bring more manufacturing jobs back to America in the reshoring efforts, challenges have sprung up.  And as our economy is trying to recover from the 2008 recession, employment in the skills gap is shifting.  One of the major challenges have become the obvious in recent years is the skills gap, and small businesses are struggling to find employees whose skills match their industry needs.

What is the skills gap?

The skills gap is the space between the skills that are needed for daily manufacturing work, and the skills that exist in the current workforce.  This leads to skilled workers going on without jobs, and manufacturing jobs left unfilled.  The skills gap has an impact on small businesses, since they do not have the same resources as larger corporations to spend money on recruiting skilled workers.  This also has an impact on the economy as small businesses account for two thirds of new jobs.  Estimates place the number of jobs that are empty due to lack in skills gap at nearly half of a million jobs.

Why does the skills gap exist?

There are a number of reasons the skills gap has developed.  The growth in demand increases year in and year out, while the baby boomer generation, which is well-trained in manufacturing skills, continues to age and retire.  Another reason is that, while prospective workers are gaining skills, they aren’t the skills needed for necessary job functions – workers needed basic math and computer abilities.  Nowadays, corporations are investing more on capital and modernized machinery – where the skills of the trade are no longer needed, since modern CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines can be programmed to produce a part.

How do we overcome the skills gap?

The best way to address the skills gap is for manufacturers to turn to the younger generation and demonstrate to them that manufacturing is no longer a dark, dirty segment of the economy.  It is now a technology-driven and is a fine alternative to a four-year college degree, with competitive wages and cleaner work environment, also with room to move up the ladder and become a shop manager.  As well as in the manufacturing industry every day is a new challenge, as products and manufacturing is constantly changing.  And the skills in the manufacturing industry are gained through experience, since some newer machines cannot perform the functions to produce complex machining. Manufacturing is an art form; the complexity cannot be done by machines alone, and need the skilled, human touch.

Many industries are doing this already, with manufacturers’ small and large working with local community and local schools to develop technical programs and educate students on the viability of a career in the manufacturing field. Many companies are also offering apprenticeships for those interesting in the field, but haven’t yet chosen a specialty as well as on-the-job training. This can help create a new generation of workers who can be part of the manufacturing sector for generations to come.  One of the biggest problems is retaining those workers that are trained, and being able to have them teach the younger generation their experiences.  Unfortunately with such competition for trained workers, they constantly have offers of work.

At Keystone Threaded Products Company, we see that filling the skills gap is necessary to the health and growth of the American manufacturing sector moving forward.  Closing this gap will help our economy grow and succeed, and set a foundation for decades to come.  If you are interested in helping to close this gap, get in touch with us or with our local resources including vocational schools and manufacturers alike that are looking for workers.

Facing a shortage of skilled workers in manufacturing

A number of U.S. manufacturers are facing a growing challenge: job opportunities without enough applicants with the necessary skills to fill them. This shortage has another name:  the skills gap.

quality_assuranceExpansion in the field of manufacturing over the last 3 years has played an important role in supporting and strengthening the overall economy — and it’s generally expected that manufacturing will continue to play a crucial role in our country’s economic future.  It’s imperative that the right workers are in the right jobs for continued growth… but where are they?

In some areas of the country, demographics are to blame.  The workforce consists of baby boomers ready to retire; estimates suggest that nearly a quarter of U.S. manufacturing employees are 55 or older.  Boomers bring expertise and experience to the job — and that knowledge could be lost if apprenticeships and mentoring opportunities aren’t continued with the next generation.

Once baby boomers retire, there are fewer and fewer young employees to take their place. Why? Possibly, it’s misconceptions about the industry as a whole.  For years young people have been told that manufacturing jobs are headed overseas, or that these types of employment aren’t worthwhile as an educational investment. They’ve heard that the industry is volatile… or it’s “dying.” This negative information has influenced the areas of study and career choices of millions of young Americans.

Many companies, Keystone included, have increased automation to keep up with demand but that’s not the whole answer.  Talented production and manufacturing team members can’t be replaced with machines.  We’re facing the possibility that the lack of qualified candidates could impact future growth.

Government, schools, and employers must all join forces to create a long-term strategy. Workforce and education programs that link the training of participants to the needs of employers are the best solution. Schools must improve their technical curriculum. Graduates need easy access to training programs.  And employers must do their part by providing on-the-job training and good wages. Keystone is currently starting a program to combat this by hiring employees with basic skills, and having our skilled employees mentor them.

In the meantime, the manufacturing industry continues to have opportunities for skilled workers ready for the challenge.