More than half a million skilled manufacturing jobs remain unfilled due to the labor skills gap in the U.S., according to one estimate.
Many job applicants lack the basic math and computer skills needed to train for high-tech manufacturing jobs, employers complain.
U.S. manufacturing employs more than 12 million workers. An estimated 600,000 skilled manufacturing jobs are unfilled, according to a 2012 Deloitte study. That could increase as more baby boomers retire.
“If we can’t fill the skills gap, it’s going to be very difficult to be competitive in the global market,” said Ted Toth, vice president and managing director of manufacturing technologies at Rosenberger-Toth, which manufactures parts for satellites and cellphone towers.
. . . “To understand the skills gap, we have to understand how the public understands manufacturing,” the head of the New Jersey-based company said. “They see it as a dark, dirty, dangerous industry.”
Young people need to be told that manufacturing is a viable alternative to pursuing a bachelor’s degree, said Toth. Employees are “blue tech” workers, he said. “They utilize technology such as computerized machines and robotics, and also in new and exciting careers in three to four times the minimum wage.”
Business leaders in two western Ohio counties are working to interest high school students in skilled trades jobs. The Auglaize & Mercer County Business Education Alliance is raising money to hire an outreach coordinator who will visit local high schools.
Electrical contractor Jack Buschur wants to find high school graduates interested in training to be electricians. “We have lots of opportunities,” Buschur says. “We’d like to keep our young people in the area and see them make a very good living.”
Bring back shop classes, writes Josh Mandel, Ohio state treasurer, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.Too many young people have four-year liberal-arts degrees, are thousands in debt and find themselves serving coffee at Starbucks or working part-time at the mall,” he writes. “Many of them would have been better off with a two-year skilled-trade or technical education that provides the skills to secure a well-paying job.”