Why the Latest JOLTS Report Is a Serious Warning Sign for Manufacturers

Manufacturers are creating new jobs at a rapid pace, yet a recent report from the Labor Department also paints a sobering picture because many of these lucrative and rewarding jobs are going unfilled. 

This week’s new Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) revealed that job openings in the manufacturing sector jumped in October to a record-high 522,000, and it’s only going to get worse. The Manufacturing Institute’s and Deloitte’s 2018 Skills Gap Study found that the number of unfilled manufacturing jobs is expected to grow in the coming years. Manufacturers repeatedly cite the inability to fill these jobs as their top concern. Left unaddressed, this workforce crisis could have a dampening effect on both manufacturing in the United States and broader economic growth in our country.

There are several causes behind this workforce crisis, notably that many workers lack critical training in the necessary skills to fill these jobs. The manufacturing industry also suffers from inaccurate perceptions among talented students who may avoid career opportunities in modern manufacturing. 

Manufacturers are working hard to close the skills gap, and The Manufacturing Institute has taken on a leading role. Through programs like Heroes MAKE America (which helps connect and train returning service members for rewarding manufacturing careers) and STEP (which supports women already in manufacturing and helps inspire more to join them), the Institute is focused like a laser on solving the workforce crisis. Moreover, nearly 3,000 manufacturers across the nation opened their doors on Manufacturing Day to students, parents, teachers, policymakers and community leaders to show them all what a manufacturing career has to offer.

Manufacturers can only grow if they keep building the workforce of the future—and that means arming students with the right skills they need, changing outdated perceptions about what it means to pursue a career in modern manufacturing and keeping the manufacturing talent pipeline open.

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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