For decades, the U.S. manufacturing industry shrank as a percentage of the overall economy. Therefore, it is not a surprise to hear that workers are less interested in pursuing a career in manufacturing than ever before. This is why, as we have mentioned in the past, the industry faces a shortage of skilled workers, even as it finally begins to grow once again.
Policymakers are concerned with the notion of a manufacturing labor shortage, and are considering action to improve training programs. For example, Congress is working on a plan to establish "manufacturing hubs" all across the U.S., which will help connect educators and their students to job opportunities in the sector.
However, in a recent article on Industry Week, contributor John Paul Williams, Director of Industry Solutions at Polycom, argues that the manufacturing industry itself already has the tools it needs to solve its labor shortage. All it needs to do is use them.
First, Williams argues that manufacturing has an image problem. He notes that, in surveys, workers indicate a preference for a professional, white-collar career. Manufacturing jobs are largely viewed as unskilled, manual labor. But Williams notes that this has not been the case for some time. Much of the recent growth in the manufacturing sector has come in the form of high-tech manufacturing. CNC machine services are just one example of areas in the sector that require skilled, professional workers.
Industry insiders need to work with colleges and technical schools to reach out to students and let them know that there are many promising opportunities in this sector. That will ensure a stronger supply of workers in the long run.