Building Jobs - In Manufacturing

In the sinking economy, where can Americans turn for a job that pays well? CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports manufacturers are looking for employees with skills.

Employees at Bison Gear and Engineering makes motors for everything from dialysis machines to ice-cream makers. The company has all the orders it can fill. What it can't fill is jobs.

"We have about a half-a-dozen openings right now," said Bison owner Ron Bullock. "The business is there, and we have the capacity to expand it."

Bison isn't alone. With half the nation's 14 million manufacturing workers nearing retirement, 90 percent of America's manufacturers say they are short qualified workers.

Amazingly these "help wanted" signs are going up at a time when the United States is hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs. Nearly 3 million have been lost since President Bush took office in 2001.

The jobs going overseas, manufacturers say, are largely the low-skill assembly line kind. Those that remain are high-skilled, high-tech, and high-paying - around $60,000 a year plus benefits.

"Every one of these machine tools that we use is about the price of a Ferrari," Bullock said. "So you need to have good computer skills if you're gonna work in high-tech manufacturing today."

But many kids coming out of high school either aren't good enough in math and science ... or aren't interested.

"Have you ever considered a job in manufacturing?" Bowers asked Justin Peterson.

"I haven't," he said. "I figured that was a kind of out-of-date career path."

Another student said, "I'm a talker, not a worker."

Blog: Hey, Kids: Change The World ... Through Manufacturing?
To deepen the labor pool, the industry is going into schools to update both its image and the curriculum.

What do we stand to lose by not having workers ready to step in?

"More and more companies who I'm talking to are not moving now for cheap labor," said Mark Meyer, a professor at the College of DuPage. "They're moving due to a lack of a … labor force that can come in and do it."

High-tech laborer Jeremy Rusiecki says he feels secure even in these insecure times.

"For myself, I see it as a good career and good money and, having an American Dream with this job," Rusiecki said.

Building his future around a job most Americans thought was thing of the past.