Brandt Industries is adding more jobs at its new agriculture manufacturing plant north of Normal, but a manager there said hiring has been slowed by the challenge of finding qualified workers.
Sales manager for Brandt’s Northeast U.S.A. operations, Hans Rasmussen, said manufacturing is seeing a rebound in the United States and he wants to see more schools help provide the necessary training.
“The tendency before was to go to a university after high school and get a degree, find a job somewhere, but the trades were ignored for several years and as the manufacturing industry is coming back, we need to develop the interest in those trades,” Rasmussen said.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the U.S. added 284,000 manufacturing jobs in 2018, that’s an increase from 207,000 in 2017.
Brandt has hired 85 full-time employees in its first year and is currently adding 14 more workers. He said the Canadian company which started production at the former Kongskilde plant in July plans to host several job fairs in the coming months.
Brandt hopes to have training programs set up with Unit 5 and Heartland Community College in the coming weeks.
Rasmussen said the workforce hasn't caught up with all the industry's growth.
“These professions, are professions. They are not just jobs. They can make a good living at this,” Rasmussen explained.
Ramussen said welders are the job in highest demand at Brandt. All of the skilled labor jobs at Brandt are non-union.
Rasmussen said welders, the job in highest demand at Brandt, offer starting pay of up to $17.50 per hour. He said each job requires some experience or certification.
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