There Are Still 488,000 Unfilled Manufacturing Jobs in the U.S. Manufacturers Are Working to Fix It.

By October 16, 2018Shopfloor Main

Manufacturers are creating a historic number of new jobs, but as new numbers out just this morning from the Labor Department show, our industry faces a workforce crisis that could leave millions of lucrative jobs unfilled in the years to come. Indeed, today’s new Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) reveal that there are, at last count, about 488,000 open manufacturing jobs in the United States. While this number is down a bit from the previous month, overall the number of unfilled manufacturing jobs is projected to continue to grow in the coming years, which could have a dampening effect on both manufacturing in the United States and broader economic growth in our country.

The National Association of Manufacturers’ (NAM) most recent Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey found that while manufacturers are overwhelmingly optimistic about the future, they know the skills gap workforce crisis is a dark cloud on the horizon: 73 percent of manufacturers cite it as their top concern. Accordingly, addressing this crisis is a top priority for The Manufacturing Institute (MI)—and we’re working hard every day to turn the tide.

The MI has launched a wide variety of programs to tackle this crisis, from Heroes MAKE America (which helps match returning servicemembers with great new manufacturing opportunities) and STEP Ahead (which supports women in manufacturing in a variety of ways) to Manufacturing Day (which saw more than 2,700 manufacturers across the nation open their doors on October 5 to students, parents, teachers, policymakers and community leaders to show them all that a career in manufacturing has to offer the next generation).

Moreover, today I’m speaking at an event hosted by The Atlantic in Pittsburgh about how manufacturers can help tackle the workforce crisis through an enhanced focus on diversity and inclusion initiatives that address an essential component of attracting the next generation of skilled manufacturers. This follows our release last week (with PwC) of a thought leadership report of best practices for diversity and inclusion initiatives and a touring online gallery of images, videos and stories of 20 modern manufacturers designed to inspire parents to see their children, and students to see reflections of themselves, in modern manufacturing (through Creators Wanted).

The manufacturing skills gap workforce crisis is something that requires all of our efforts to solve. Meanwhile, the manufacturing industry and the world around us is changing fast at the same time. Manufacturers can only grow if they keep building the workforce of the future—and that means changing outdated perceptions about what it means to pursue a career in modern manufacturing.

Carolyn Lee

Carolyn Lee

Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute at The Manufacturing Institute
Carolyn Lee is Executive Director of The Manufacturing Institute, the non-profit affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the nation’s largest industrial trade association. Carolyn drives an agenda focused on improving the manufacturing industry through its three centers: the Center for the American Workforce, the Center for Manufacturing Research, and the Center for Best Practices.

In her role, Carolyn leads the Institute’s workforce efforts to close the skills gap and inspire all Americans to enter the U.S. manufacturing workforce, focusing on women, youth, and veterans. Carolyn steers the Institute’s initiatives and programs to educate the public on manufacturing careers, improve the quality of manufacturing education, engage, develop and retain key members of the workforce, and identify and document best practices. In addition, Carolyn drives the agenda for the Center for Manufacturing Research, which partners with leading consulting firms in the country. The Institute studies the critical issues facing manufacturing and then applies that research to develop and identify solutions that are implemented by companies, schools, governments, and organizations across the country.

Prior to joining the Institute, Carolyn was Senior Director of Tax Policy at the NAM beginning in 2011, where she was responsible for key portions of the NAM’s tax portfolio representing the manufacturing community on Capitol Hill and in the business community and working closely with the NAM membership. She served as the Director of Legislative and Government Affairs at the Telecommunications Industry Association, Manager of State and Federal Government Affairs for 3M Company, and in various positions on Capitol Hill including as Legislative Director for former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and as a senior legislative staff member for former U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly (R-NY).

Carolyn is a graduate of Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania graduating with a B.A. in Political Science. She resides in Northern Virginia with her husband and three children.
Carolyn Lee

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