Closing the Skills Gap: American Manufacturing Facilities Need Workers

As more Americans become vaccinated and the economy picks back up, the demand for goods is skyrocketing. But there’s a big problem: American manufacturers can’t find people to work in their factories.

skills gapCurrently, the industry has more than half a million job openings with little interest. The skills gap is an ongoing issue, with many Americans opting for an undergraduate liberal arts degree rather than learning specialized skills like welding and machining. Many of these positions are entry level with full training programs.

“It is deeply concerning that at a time when jobs are in such high demand nationwide, the number of vacant entry-level manufacturing positions continues to grow,” Paul Wellener of Deloitte said in a statement.

The skills gap has been widening for over a decade, with industry experts finally starting to see the effects of the problem. Experts warn the shortage could cost the U.S. economy up to $1 trillion in the next 10 years across a number of private sectors.

The unemployment rate is higher than ever, yet manufacturers say it’s 36% harder to find workers today than in 2018. Why is that? The answer likely lies in our schooling system. The misconception is that manufacturing jobs are for lower intelligence workers–but that’s the opposite of the truth.

“We have a perception problem. People don’t know the jobs are here or that these are jobs they want,” says Carolyn Lee, executive director of The Manufacturing Institute. “People think it’s a stationary, low-progression and low-knowledge industry. And that’s not the case,” Lee said.
Most children aren’t even given the option to go into blue collar positions upon graduation.

TV personality and handyman Mike Rowe said it best, “The skills gap is a reflection of what we value. To close the gap, we need to change the way the country feels about work.”

The skills gap will start to shrink once schools start showcasing blue collar jobs as a viable, successful option for children’s futures.

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