Nothing To Sneeze At

If you read the NAM blog, you know that there is a critical shortage of highly-skilled workers around the country. We are not talking about health care workers. Or lawyers. It is in manufacturing that this critical shortage exists and if it goes on unaddressed by policy-makers, then manufacturers won’t have much choice but to hire workers abroad and build product there. No one wants to see that outcome, but a manufacturer with orders on his or her books has to find the people to make things or else close their doors.

This is nothing to sneeze at, and the makers of Kleenex know that firsthand. Kimberly-Clark has done a great service to their employees and readers of their e-newsletter, The Manufacturing Link. In the latest edition, they surface the workforce shortage issue in a succinct analysis. Just click on the previous highlight to read the full piece.

Here’s an excerpt: “The problem? The new breed of U.S. manufacturers — which makes everything from mountain bikes to computers to jet parts — is having a difficult time finding skilled technical workers — from entry level to sophisticated front line. This is a problem that will only intensify as the baby boomer generation retires with no skilled employees in the pipeline to replace them…..The manufacturing industry and our country’s education system need to focus more on the cross-cutting, higher-order skills that are increasingly demanded of both existing workers and younger workers who are coming out of high schools, trade schools and community colleges,’ says Stacey Jarrett Wagner, Managing Director, Center for Workforce Success, The Manufacturing Institute (the research and education arm of the NAM). ‘We especially need to help younger people understand that, while there’s been a decrease in the types of manufacturing jobs their parents and grandparents held, there is a vibrant future in high-skill manufacturing jobs.’ ”

To address this skills gap, The Manufacturing Institute has developed the Dream It. Do It. campaign which has already successfully increased the number of young men and women attending technical college in the greater Kansas City area. Other communities are clamoring for it because they see the link between a qualified workforce and the high paying manufacturing jobs that help make for a strong economic base.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • SEO Brad says:

    It’s interesting to see how educational focus changes over time. Now they are doing the same thing for technology in the classroom. The realworld advantages of having a student start in grade school are potentially huge but instead we have a “computer” room in middle school for the entire school. Doesn’t make much sense to me but I am not in control of education.

  • Richard Becker says:

    Existence of a skills shortage is not surpising to this writer who, as an Industrial Eduction teacher in the late ’60s and early ’70s, who tried to make a difference. Instead of teaching the traditional “shop” classes to placate the malconents and the “non-academic oriented” students, I had the audacity to expect them to read, write, and use math as basic skills the administration declared as not essential for students “learning to work wioth their hands in manual vocational skills! Prior to college ’66-’72, I worked setting up and operated Brown and Sharpe screw machines and therefore knew the importance of an academic high school education.

    At the time, I had envisioned for the future today’s CNC era which the administration thought ws “futuristic”. It came to pass in ’77 but the schools were no longer educating non-college students for success in a post-secondary program to gain the rquisite skills and knowledge applied in the direct labor workplace.

    To this day, administators adamantly believe that manufacturing is a “dying industry” so there is no point in educating young people. They would rather push as many students as possible into college on the assumption all students should or want to attend college. The result is creating of the high school and college dropouts who are academically inclined but are not being introduced to non-college career options that requires the same education as college. It would impart more relevance to academic instruction if applied in the real world rather than be a mere exercise in the quest for a high grade.

    My education reform effort is addressing that problem. RHB