Manufacturers struggling to find welders, machinists see women as potential labor pool

IndustrialsAssociated Press

Some companies looking for welders, machinists and other skilled workers are turning their sights to women.

Federal statistics show that women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce yet hold less than a third of the nation's 12.2 million manufacturing jobs.

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Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson is among the companies targeting women through job fairs, professional organizations and schools. Harley official Tonit Calaway says it's good business to have the company's workforce look like its potential customers.

Women's share of manufacturing jobs peaked in the early 1990s. But a report by the National Women's Law Center found that since the recession ended in 2009, men regained more than 500,000 industry jobs, while women lost another 52,000.

The report's author says the reasoning is unclear, but she believes companies aren't doing enough outreach.