A recent report released by the Manufacturing Institute shows that 82 percent of manufacturers have a moderate to severe shortage of highly skilled applicants and face reduced earnings of up to 11 percent annually due to skills shortages. These facts bear out the plain and simple fact that there are not enough highly-skilled workers to meet the increasingly technological demands of manufacturing. This is true despite manufacturing employees being compensated almost 9 percent more than other industries and manufacturers spending an average of $1500 per employee per year on training.
To help fill this gap, manufacturers may attempt to recruit foreign-born workers through the use of H-1B visas, a limited but valuable method of ensuring that the next generation of innovation comes from the US. This issue affects manufacturers from California to New York in all manufacturing sectors from what people traditionally think of as hi-tech industries to heavy equipment and metal fabricating – and many of these potential employees are recruited because they are graduating from U.S. universities with the skills and training manufacturers are looking for.
The Senate Judiciary committee is holding a hearing today that highlights concerns with the H-1B system, and we agree that abuses of the program should be addressed. However, manufacturers and other employers need this program to be functional and robust in order to be competitive globally. It is projected in the next 10 years that due to the skills gap there will be 2 million manufacturing jobs that go unfilled. Strikingly, 82 percent of manufacturing executives believe the skills gap will impact their ability to meet customer demand, and 78 percent believe it will impact their ability to implement new technologies and increase productivity. Manufacturers need more options, not fewer to fill this talent shortage.
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