When thinking of a classic American manufacturer, what company comes to mind? It’s most likely a large retail chain – and it’s also most likely not a true American company. While the domestic market is dominated by big box retailers that offshore production, the majority of companies that are truly American Made are small businesses.
According to 2017 study , 98.6% of American manufacturers were small businesses with fewer than 20 employees. These companies operate in all different industries, from apparel to tech products. While the group has a wide reach of consumers, they are struggling to find qualified workers.
While about 8.6% of the population was employed in the manufacturing industry in 2017, a whopping 89% of manufacturers could not fill job openings.
“The biggest issue in the reshoring movement is the skills gap,” says Don Buckner, President and CEO of MadeinAmerica.com. “The government needs to prioritize apprenticeships and training programs over 4-year university degrees.”
Don’s opinion closely resembles that of Harry Moser, President and CEO of The Reshoring Initiative. Moser dedicates his time to educating manufacturers on the importance of bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.
“The government needs to take some real action to push funds into training programs instead of university loans,” said Moser.
These positions are left open mainly due to:
- Shifting skillsets due to changes in technology advancements
- Misperceptions of manufacturing jobs and pay
- Retirement of baby boomers
While most young people opt to attend a 4-year university over a training program, this leaves companies with no potential talent to choose from. According to Moser, the main culprit is lack of funding and acknowledgement for apprenticeship and training programs.
“To address the issue and fill the skills gap, many manufacturers are taking increasingly aggressive measures, such as creating public-private partnerships, developing in-house training programs for multiple generations, and bolstering apprenticeship programs,” wrote SCORE Association CEO Bridget Weston. “Manufacturing is essential to many industries and has a massive impact on the U.S. economy. For small business manufacturers, the future couldn’t be brighter as advances in technology and artificial intelligence provide more automation opportunities. It’s a great time to own a small manufacturing business!”
If you’re a small business interested in connecting with other American made businesses, click here to attend Made in America 2021.