Trade is Good but Where are the Workers?

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has been on a trade mission to India lately to drum up more customers for the state’s industries.

But back at home, Minnesota manufacturers are saying they are having a hard time finding workers to make the products that would go to India and the rest of the world.

A 2007 survey of Minnesota manufacturers released this week said 62 percent of northwest Minnesota manufacturers and 63 percent of manufacturers in the southwest part of the state had a “moderate or serious” worker shortage.

In Minnesota’s more heavily populated Twin Cities region, 48 percent of manufacturers reported a worker shortage, the survey said. Educated workers – including scientists, engineers and skilled production employees – are most in the demand in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

The survey reinforces the constant message we drive here at NAM and our research arm, the Manufacturing Institute. The nationwide “skills gap” has become a major headache for manufacturing and a major impediment to our ability to compete in the global marketplace.

The survey also suggests Minnesota manufacturers can work more with local educators to find qualified workers. Nearly half of respondents hadn’t worked with local schools to find potential hires, the survey said.

The executive summary of the Minnesota study, “Understanding the Worker Needs of Manufacturers: The 2007 Minnesota Skills Gap Survey,” is available here.

For NAM’s earlier take on the skills gap issue check out:

UPDATE (1:30 p.m. – Carter Wood): NAM President John Engler talked about skills and education — including the No Child Left Behind Act — in his weekly message. You can read it here.

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Carlton Arndt says:

    I believe that the basic problem with most of the young people coming into the workforce at all levels is the lack of “The 3 R,s”. I am currently working with new hires in a large papermill, and also training people in a very high end furniture and cabinetry plant producing this country’s largest production yachts.In both cases rudimentry math skills are missing. Before you can teach machinery operation, you need high school math comprehension. Writing skills are non-existent as well as spelling diasters. We spend
    thousands repairing equiptment due to the fact that these people can,t read a tape meausure or

  • Karen Dowdy says:

    Good article. What are the skills that today’s students seem to be missing to perform effectively in the manufacturing workplace?

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