Lack of interest and work ethic driving labor shortage, say woodworkers
February 25, 2019 | 5:05 pm UTC

We recently surveyed 150 woodworkers to find out if the companies they work at are having trouble finding laborers. 80 percent said yes.

We asked what they believed was causing the shortage of labor across the woodworking industry and others. Most said an overall lack of interest was the main reason. That was followed closely by schools not doing enough to expose students, as well as pressure for young people to go to college and get urban skills.

Survey respondents ranked the following reasons in the order of significance.

1.       An overall lack of interest

2.       Schools aren’t doing enough to expose students

3.       Pressure for young people to go to college and get urban skills

4.       The physically demanding nature of woodworking jobs

5.       Low unemployment rates

6.       Potentially lower pay

7.       Rural shop locations

8.       Impending automation is deterring interest

Rural shop locations and the threat of automation ranked much lower than the other items. Woodworkers don't seem to think those are big factors.

Many also said that work ethic problems (especially in millennials) were deterring interest. 

Here are some comments:

"Perception of low pay. Competition from higher paying trades."

"Cultural unwillingness to take instruction and submit to authority. Too easy to get government benefits."

"Our schools are staffed by people who think the only way to be successful is to attend college and accumulate massive student loan debt - we have no voice and are dismissed as uninformed."

"Most of the applicants we get want to start out making a lot of money, not to be told what to do, want to be on their phone all working hours and just to not have to work very hard in general."

"Working with your hands is not valued enough in our school systems."

"Not as pretty as the tech salary and work life."

"Lack of awareness of income potential, the stigma associated with factory/manufacturing work."

"We are a custom furniture shop. There is a decreasing demand for both custom and 'art' furniture."

Let us know what you think is causing the labor shortage in the comments below.


Raising pay & lowering hiring standards - how wood firms are finding labor

How are professional woodworking companies finding labor?

The lack of skilled and unskilled labor is among the most dominant issues plaguing the wood manufacturing industry. Low unemployment rates, rural shop locations, and millennial low interest and work ethic are just a few of the causes, according to many wood product executives.

We presented the complete findings in a webinar Tuesday, February 26 from 1-1:30 pm CST. FDMC magazine Editor-in-Chief Will Sampson and WWN Daily Brief Editor Robert Dalheim discussed the survey results and field questions and comments from the audience.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

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About the author
Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected]