Is a skills gap holding the manufacturing sector back?

The domestic manufacturing sector is growing. As this blog has mentioned previously, the U.S. is gradually becoming a low-cost location for manufacturing businesses that want to invest in production closer to their customer base, leading to growth in that sector.

But some believe that this growth is still being held back by another problem—a skill shortage.

For example, in an article for the Huffington Post, Former President of the National Association of Manufacturers Jerry Jasinowski wrote that for many manufacturers, a lack of qualified workers demands far more attention than energy prices. Without skilled individuals at the helm of any facility, the price of electricity matters little—manufacturers can lose far more money on inefficient operations or mishandled personnel. 

Jasinowski notes that as current workers retire, it will only become more difficult for employers to replace them with younger workers who posses the same knowledge. Years of outsourcing have led a generation of workers to seek out careers in fields other than manufacturing, and as such many are ill-equipped to enter the industry now that jobs are becoming available.

For this reason, job training has never been more essential to the overall success of the domestic manufacturing industry. This is particularly important in states where the regulatory environment has been designed to benefit a strong manufacturing sector. In Texas, for example, low taxes and a friendly business environment make it an ideal location for CNC machine shops and other factories. Local community colleges should focus on training students for these increasingly prevalent opportunities.