Manufacturing Workforce: Closing the U.S. Manufacturing Skills Gap

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In 2012, the average manufacturing worker in the U.S. earned $77,505, including pay and benefits. Additionally, traditional manufacturing jobs have transformed with technology. Hand-held welders have been replaced by robotic welders and industrial maintenance mechanics can operate machinery from a digital computer. 

Nonetheless, manufacturers cannot find skilled workers to fill manufacturing jobs. To understand the impact of the manufacturing skills gap, it is helpful to look ateconomic data.

  • More than 406,000 additional jobs would be directly created if the U.S. could fill the 600,000 open manufacturing positions.
  • The U.S. unemployment rate would decrease 0.64 percent if jobs were filled.
  • National GDP would increase by 1.03 percent if 600,000 open jobs and 406,441 additional jobs were filled.

States across the U.S. have stepped up to the plate by developing initiatives to demonstrate that manufacturing jobs are high-tech, high-skilled and high-paying careers. 

Since Wisconsin manufacturers predict they will have to fill 700,000 job vacancies over the next eight years, employers, schools and chambers of commerce are working together to prepare students and fill manufacturing jobs. 

For example, Wisconsin manufacturer KI Furniture developed youth and adult apprenticeship programs, job training and YouTube videos to attract people to the manufacturing industry. The furniture manufacturer finds many of its future workers through its partnership with the North East Wisconsin (NEW) Manufacturing Alliance. The NEW Manufacturing Alliance’s objectives are to create a positive view of manufacturing careers in Wisconsin; grow partnerships with K-16 schools, media and manufacturers; promote workforce training and development; and advance collaboration efforts to secure U.S. manufacturing’s future. 

High-school students in northeast Ohio design and build their own working robots with the help of manufacturing companies in a RoboBot competition sponsored by the Alliance for Working Together. The Alliance for Working Together is a collation of local manufacturing companies partnered with Lakeland Community College to develop degree programs with area high schools to introduce apprenticeship programs starting in the ninth grade. 

Siemens announced it would donate approximately $660 million in software to a dozen technical schools and colleges in Massachusetts to help train a new generation of workers in advanced manufacturing.

The Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board teamed up with Carnegie Mellon, local community colleges, unions and apprenticeship programs to improve outcomes for job seekers and employers in the manufacturing sector. They’re increasing coordination between emerging technology in the industry with education and training at colleges to provide college credit, making manufacturing college degrees affordable and easily accessible. 

Read more: To rebuild the U.S. manufacturing industry, manufacturers are introducing the Millennial generation to a new world of 3D printing, robotics, computers and software. Find out more in our blog post,Making Manufacturing “Cool” Again: Bridging the Skills Gap.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.


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