Approximately 426,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs go unfilled today because there simply are not enough qualified applicants to fill them, according to a blog post by Robyn Boerstling. This skills gap threatens the future of the manufacturing industry as well as the economy in general.
The question is what to do about it. During a hearing before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, several NAM member companies offered their insights.
Glenn Johnson of BASF Corporation described the lack of skilled workers as a symptom of a more basic problem.
“In this country we have allowed a narrative to develop that the ‘best’ jobs are no longer in manufacturing, but in white-collar, office settings,” he said.
Fiat Chrysler’s Barb Pilarski explained: “First, our high school education system does not adequately expose students … to the manufacturing sector and the attractions of careers in this area. Second, this same education system has been inconsistent in terms of providing all graduating students with the skills to keep pace with the evolution of the [industry]….”
Steve Staub, president of a small manufacturing company called Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Ohio, was a guest of the First Lady at this year’s State of the Union address. He told the committee that small companies like his are roaring back and growing at a rapid pace—thanks in many ways to pro-growth policies out of Washington, like tax reform—but they simply are not able to find enough workers to keep pace with all the new openings they need to fill.