The Skills Gap: Why We Need Dream It! Do It!

So why are programs like “Dream It! Do It!” necessary?

There is a stereotype that manufacturing is a dead-end type of career, but that is totally opposite the truth,” said Ronald Bullock, who runs the family owned Bison Gear and Engineering Corp. in St. Charles, Ill., outside Chicago.

The company, which makes electric motors for restaurant, medical and packaging equipment, has used a quick-response, custom-made system – it does the work fast and to detailed specifications for each job – to regain business lost to lower-wage Mexico and China. Now the expanding company has trouble finding workers who can read and do the math required for entry-level $10 hourly jobs with health care benefits and future raises.

The picture is similar across much of the nation’s industrial base, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting a consistent increase over three years in the rate of vacant manufacturing jobs, going from the 1.5 percent range to about 2.5 percent, or one in 40 jobs vacant.

From a solid Associated Press report on the “skills gap” that’s hindering the competitiveness of manufacturing in the United States.

Ron, by the way, is a member of NAM’s board of directors and an engaged, informed advocate for improving education and training for America’s young people. He testified before the National Science Board in December 2005 on K-16 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education in the U.S.