A new nationwide poll* found that most Americans are not “tinkerers,” and manufacturing leaders say the “hands-off” policy around the house is a leading cause of disinterest among American youth to fill much-needed, future industrial skilled labor jobs.

In a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, nearly six in 10 said they never have made or built a toy. More than a quarter – 27 percent – have not made or built even one item from a list of eight common projects ranging from a dollhouse or piece of furniture to a fence or flower box.

In addition, 60 percent avoid handling major household repairs, opting to hire a handyman, enlist their spouse, ask a relative or contact a property manager. And, 57 percent state they have average or below average skills at fixing things around the house.

“Many Americans simply do not work with their hands anymore, whether it’s to tackle a hobby for pleasure or to handle a necessary household repair,” said Gerald Shankel, president of Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs (NBT), The Foundation of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, which sponsored the poll.

“This means young people essentially have no role models when it comes to fixing things themselves or taking pride in building something useful,” Shankel added. “It’s no wonder why so many teens today dismiss the idea of considering a career in manufacturing or one of the manual arts such as electrical, plumbing, carpentry or welding.”

In fact, a separate NBT national poll of 500 teens revealed nearly three quarters – 73 percent – have no or little interest, or are ambivalent, about joining the ranks of blue collar workers as an adult.

“It’s absolutely critical for this mindset to change because when America recovers from our economic downtown, there will be a dire need for skilled manpower in the trades,” said actor and producer John Ratzenberger, an NBT founder who leads the group’s efforts to promote manufacturing as a viable career choice.

It does appear parental support for this cause exists in America, according to the NBT poll. More than half of the adults surveyed who have children would recommend their sons and daughters pursue a manufacturing career or another kind of technical work such as welding, plumbing, construction, electrical or equipment repair.

NBT addresses this goal by offering grants to not-for-profit organizations and educational institutions that introduce young people to careers in the trades through manufacturing summer camps for youth. It also issues scholarships to students at colleges and trade schools pursuing studies that lead to careers in manufacturing.

For more information on NBT, visit www.NutsAndBoltsFoundation.org.

*The NBT poll results are based on the responses of 1,000 adults in the United States who participated in a telephone survey in September 2009.


Source: Fabricators & Manufacturers Association