Jonathan Morgan is a School of Government faculty member.
Manufacturing companies in the U.S. have struggled to find enough skilled production workers for several years. During periods of robust economic growth, the shortage of qualified workers is particularly acute. In the current economy with so many people looking for work, it is expected that manufacturing firms would have a lot less difficulty finding workers with the skills they need. Not so, says a new report that documents a skills gaps that persists even in a time of high unemployment.
The report titled Boiling Point? The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing, produced by Deloitte Consulting and the Manufacturing Institute, discusses the findings from a national survey of manufacturing executives. The findings show that current labor market conditions have not eased the shortage of skilled production workers in positions such as machinists, operators, craft trades, and technicians. Survey respondents indicated that an average of 5% of their jobs go unfilled because they cannot find people with the necessary skills. This translates into some 600,000 jobs nationally that are there for the taking.
The findings in the report point to an urgent need for creative and innovative strategies for expanding the pool of skilled production workers available for manufacturing. This seems like a potentially promising way to get a sizeable number of people into decent paying jobs in this tough economy.