Job creation in the modern manufacturing industry is surging, but employers are struggling to find enough workers with the right set of skills. This workforce crisis has caused nearly half a million open manufacturing jobs to remain unfilled, and the Manufacturing Institute’s 2018 Skills Gap Study found that number is expected to swell to 2.4 million within the next decade.
Manufacturers aren’t sitting on the sidelines, and neither is the White House.
Yesterday, President Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross sat down with business leaders, educators, and policy makers on the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board to discuss the depth of the workforce crisis, how it is negatively impacting economic growth, and pro-active solutions to up-skill America’s workforce:
Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said U.S. job openings reached a record high in December at 7.3 million. The White House says the job openings present “a mismatch between the skills needed and those being taught, requiring immediate attention to help more Americans enter the workforce.”
The advisory board members will work “to develop and implement a strategy to revamp the American workforce to better meet the challenges of the 21st century,” the White House said.
NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons, as a member of the board, participated in the White House meeting, and shared a few words with President Trump about manufacturing’s historic optimism and growth, and how the workforce crisis is acutely threatening the industry.
Timmons cited the results of our latest Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, which showed optimism in the industry at historic highs for the ninth consecutive quarter:
JAY TIMMONS: I had the great fortune yesterday of being able to announce the results of our first quarter 2019 Survey of Manufacturers with the Vice President present at our Board of Directors meeting. And as you know, that survey has been going on for 20 years. I was able to announce that we have had nine consecutive quarters of record optimism —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Great.
JAY TIMMONS: — for manufacturers. 91.8 percent. And that’s no accident. That is because of the tools we’ve been given to invest, to hire, to raise wages on benefits through tax reform, through regulatory certainty. And that’s created a bit of a challenge for us because now we have 428,000 jobs open in manufacturing. Our Manufacturing Institute predicts that that number will increase to 2.4 million in the next 10 years. So this Board, this Advisory Board, it’s perfect timing.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jay. And if you remember from past years, others said that manufacturing was not going to happen; those jobs were never coming back. And they are coming back. We have 600,000 —
MR. TIMMONS: Well, they’re coming roaring back.
“Thank you for taking this on,” Timmons said. “It really is going to matter for America’s future. It’s going to matter for our success in the global economy.”
It will take collaboration from manufacturing leaders, policy makers, educators, and communities to tackle the workforce crisis and guarantee further growth in the modern manufacturing industry. Yesterday’s meeting was an encouraging sign that we’re headed in the right direction.
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