The incoming Trump administration has placed a high value on the need to keep manufacturing jobs in the United States. With more than 12 million manufacturing workers in the United States, accounting for 9 percent of the workforce, it is clear to see why. These jobs are the backbone of our economy.
However, to keep jobs in the United States, we must address the fundamental reality that there is a skills gap in manufacturing that is widening each year: the skills workers have are not always the skills that are in demand. Current projections forecast nearly 2 million jobs will remain unfilled over the next 10 years due to the skills gap.
These shortages will hold back future economic growth. Increased production costs and revenue losses that result from skills shortages in U.S. manufacturing are reportedly costing manufacturers up to 11 percent of earnings annually. On top of that, workers and their families miss out on opportunities to secure new jobs or advance in their current roles.
The skills needed to succeed in manufacturing are not the same as they were 20 years ago. Manufacturing today often requires tech-savvy skilled workers to make products the world wants—from lifesaving medical technologies to internet-connected devices. Basic manufacturing line skills often require a knowledge of math and science that significantly affects the quality of the product being produced.
Across America, manufacturing employers are working to provide leadership by increasing partnerships with educators and communities to deliver practical training and educational opportunities.
Today, manufacturers are playing an active role in reaching out to educators on how to better communicate about the skills required for success to young people choosing their career paths—and to others looking for a new path.
Manufacturers are being the solution. But there is room for more leadership from our elected representatives. Federal policy should enable and embrace our efforts. The National Association of Manufacturers has laid out what we want to see from our leaders in our “Competing to Win” blueprint for building tomorrow’s workforce, and we look forward to working with the new Congress and the next administration in the new year to secure manufacturing jobs in the United States.