The Surprising Challenge Facing the Manufacturing Industry (Part II of V)

This is the second in a five part series based on the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) whitepaper, Challenges Facing the Manufacturing Industry and taking the First Steps toward the Revitalization of Manufacturing. This blog suggests some of the challenges facing the manufacturing industry and discusses how a shortage of skilled workers may be holding the industry back.

America faces 4 major challenges – globalization, the revolution in information technology, the nation’s chronic deficits, and its pattern of energy consumption. These problems cannot be fixed by manufacturers alone. Many of these issues revolve around politics due to current laws and regulations that make it difficult for manufacturers to compete fairly with foreign companies.

The challenge that needs to be acknowledged prior to the above-mentioned issues is a surprising one, the shortage of skilled workers in the manufacturing industry. Studies show 82% of manufacturers have a moderate or serious shortage of skilled production workers, and 5% of all manufacturing jobs (approx. 600,000 jobs) are open because there is no qualified talent. To further complicate the problem, 2.7 million manufacturing employees are age 55 or older and likely to leave the workforce over the next 10 years, creating a succession problem.

America’s educational system has not adapted to changed priorities around the world – the critical need for math, physics, engineering and technical knowledge and skills in economic development. This has caused Americans to rapidly lose jobs, while more emphasis on these subjects in other countries has made America’s competitors gain employment in manufacturing. America’s high school graduation rate ranks 19th in the world, while 40 years ago, we were number one.

Having a steady supply of highly skilled workers, scientists, researchers, and engineers is a top driver of the manufacturing competitiveness of nations and the standard of living of their people. This must be at the forefront of our minds as we try to regain America’s share of the manufacturing industry.

As always, remember to contact Anders if this blog topic interests you and you want to take the next step to further grow your business or simply make it more efficient. We are able to give a unique perspective that can help continue to grow your business.