Asset Management

Influx of Programs Designed to Address the Widening Skills Gaps in U.S. Manufacturing

According to a survey by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd. and the Washington-based Manufacturing Institute, U.S. manufacturing companies can’t fill as many as 600,000 skilled positions because of a lack of qualified applicants. As cited in the Bloomberg article, “Ohio Compressor Maker Hunts for Workers Amid Skills Gap,” “analysts attribute this to everything from the disappearance of shop classes in school to the pressure on students to attend college instead of cultivating vocational skills for the difficulty in finding workers for some manufacturing jobs.”

Stephen Rose, a research professor at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce in Washington, estimates that 2.2 million jobs are going unfilled because of a mismatch between available positions and qualified workers, which means there is a need to better align education and training to ensure there are workers with the skills to fill these jobs.

Many state administrations are aiming to address this skills gap. At a press conference, Ohio Governor John Kasich announced that he aimed to do just that by revamping the state’s workforce-training programs and get businesses to provide forecasts of jobs so schools can prepare students for them. “If we can begin to get the community colleges, the technical schools, the vocational schools, and the four-year schools working hand-in-hand with business, we can fix this,” said Kasich at a press conference. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill in August that included $5 million for a trust fund, according to a release, to prepare residents for high-demand jobs and to help “close the middle-skills gap.”

On a national level, there a number of initiatives, including the Military-to-Civilian Skills Certification Program, announced in June by President Barack Obama, which is designed to qualify U.S. military personnel for civilian jobs as engineers and manufacturers.
During his speech, President Obama cited that according to one survey, 80% of manufacturers say they can’t find enough workers with the skills necessary to fill open positions.

Many manufactures and organizations are doing their part to address the skills gap by hosting career fairs, workshops, and other events throughout the U.S. on October 5 as part of Manufacturing Day to highlight the skills needed and jobs available. Manufacturing Day has been designed to expand knowledge about and improve general public perception of manufacturing careers and manufacturing\’s value to the U.S. economy. Manufacturing Day is for students, parents, educators, media, customers, suppliers, and the community at large. Visitors will learn about real career opportunities, training, and resources. In addition, manufacturers will learn about business improvement resources and services delivered through manufacturing extension partnerships.

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