I am in my 50's and this is also half-rant. I have nearly 20 years experience as a corporate trainer. I am currently a technical shop manager/engineering director as well as having been a manager in the past. I am well aware of this subject from all angles.
My staff is made up of electrical engineers, electronics technicians, and industrial electricians, as well as some trainees and "Baby engineers" as I call them. We pay very well, especially for Texas. (Right now, I'm living in Dubai, but am still working in the same field doing the same type of job).
We cannot get qualified people at any price. We even offer to pay them as we train them. The problem is that most young people want to start entry level at $60K per year. Our job path starts around the mid $30's, and progresses quickly to $60K after maybe two years. Within 5 years you can make between $80K and $130K per year, depending on your abilities and your willingness to travel. These are real numbers, and I'm currently NOT able to find people to take the job and do the job. I have hired four people in the last five years who have worked out and stayed with the job. I have interviewed maybe 200 people in that time (at least one per week, more or less). I make offers to maybe one out of every 20 people I interview, so I've hired around 10 people for these positions in the last five years or so. We are not a job shop, and we hope to hire for the long run. I have fired only one person in that time. Everyone else is turnover by their own choices.
In the 1990's we had to lay off people when I was with a different company, and I told my boss at the time that it would be a minimum of six months after rehire before the brightest people we hired would be usable. I was told to slash my staff anyway. Just a note, but if I'm ever asked to slash staff again, I'm submitting my name and walking out the door with my entire team still employed at my departure.
The problem is that younger people want the rewards of hard work, but without actually working hard. Getting a degree doesn't guarantee you $150K per year when you turn 30. Also, for that level of pay, you'd better be earning me at least $300K. When my guys see that I'm charging over $2K per day for their services (once they are senior and independent), they think, "that's nearly $750K per year, and I'm only making $90K. I'm being ripped off." They conveniently forget the $40K they got the year when we were teaching them how to do the job, not to mention the jobs we sent them out on - unpaid - so they could get hands-on experience so they could then make us $2K per day. They also conveniently forget days off and vacations and comp time we give them, as well as the times I've had to send them out unpaid for warranty and follow-up work, and surveys for quotes. I did this job myself, and I do my best to make the job tenable for the people doing it.
There is a great deal of immaturity, sloth, and laziness on the part of the younger generation. Are there great kids out there who are worth the money and great employees? No doubt. Are there lazy snots out there who want a paycheck for nothing? Even more assuredly.
In short, this is not a one-sided problem. We hire, pay well, train, and have the full benefits package. We recruit ex-military (my preferred new-hire), recent college graduates, recent trade school graduates, as well as hire by word of mouth and random web postings and searches. If there is an experienced person out there, we start them around $80 to $90K, and when they prove they deserve it, they make more.
In short, skilled labor is just not available. Everyone wants to be a lawyer, banker, or doctor. No one wants to be an electrician, plumber, or welder.