The U.S. the leading producer of cutting-edge products such as those on display at the Consumer Electronics Show.  Whether it’s in IT, biotech, aerospace, medical devices or heavy machinery, US companies will be the ones to constantly and consistently create new and better things. This future promises to be bright, but only if we have the workforce capable of pushing that leading-edge. And right now, that doesn’t look like a very good bet.  The lack of a skilled workforce is a constant threat to manufacturing growth. In fact in a recent survey 82% of manufacturers reported a moderate-to-serious shortage in skilled production labor.  Worker shortages abound not only among machinists and welders but also in occupations requiring expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), where the unemployment rate today lies well below 4%.

The US needs to refocus our workforce training resources and reform our immigration system to continue to grow and innovate. Immigration reform is a serious issue for Manufacturers not only in the High-tech arena but across manufacturing sectors. Without a skilled workforce – from the PhDs to production labor, the nation’s economy will suffer and jobs will be moved overseas. Access to the right individual with the right skills at the right time will ensure that the US remains a global innovation leader.

The Bosch Group and Global Foundries are two companies taking this critical issue head on. The Bosch Community Fund launched last year to improve STEM education and will award up to $3 million in grants annually, providing additional support for the company’s charitable and community efforts in the U.S., with a focus on science, technology and environmental initiatives.

Global Foundries has committed to growing their talent through partnerships with community colleges and universities. At their Fab 8 facility in Malta, New York their workforce development efforts have begun to bear fruit with hundreds of hires made through ongoing collaboration with local partners including Hudson Valley County Community College, Schenectady County Community College, RPI, College of Nanoscale and Engineering at U Albany and Saratoga Board of Supervisors.

The Consumer Electronics Show puts on the display the best of American innovation and a skilled workforce invents, plans, produces and markets that innovation. We should focus American resources towards ensuring the CES of tomorrow will be even stronger than this year.

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