The ironic dilemma for U.S. manufacturing-- skills come at a price.
The U.S. manufacturing sector has shed more than 5 million jobs since 2000. One consequence of this job loss is that younger Americans entering the workforce have chosen careers outside of manufacturing because they see it as a "declining industry."
At the same time, the quality of manufacturing jobs have changed, moving toward more high-tech, high-skilled work. Unfortunately, many candidates for 21st Century industrial jobs lack key training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics needed for this advanced work.
At the Manufacturing Innovation blog, Stacey Wagner reports that this skills shortfall comes just as the U.S. is "bouncing back and advanced manufacturing is pulling the economy forward." Wagner says it would be unfortunate if the U.S. could not take advantage of this resurgence because of a lack of investment in the workforce.
Wagner says that manufacturers claim to have difficulty finding skilled employees. Yet at the same time, "median weekly income for U.S. production workers dropped 2.5 percent this year from the same period in 2011."
The problem, as Wagner points out, is that the very people "who would be good candidates for manufacturing training and jobs are not seeing wages commensurate with the jobs." Essentially, small manufacturers are having trouble finding workers because they aren’t willing to pay market wages.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has continually urged more investment in workforce training in order for the U.S. to meet the competitive technical needs of the 21st Century. Young workers need to be trained now in order to keep the country in motion.
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