While the public is focused on growing jobs in the United States, what’s in dire need of a spotlight is the importance of cultivating a skilled workforce. A 2015 report by the Manufacturing Institute states nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled over the next decade and two million are expected to go unfilled due to a major lack of skilled candidates.
This alarming shortage of trained workers in the U.S. today points to a clear disconnect between the reality of the job market and the training options available to young adults. Colleges may be churning out students who know things, but today’s job market requires candidates who can do things. Between years of employment declines, outsourcing and an outdated perception among parents and educators that manufacturing is a poor career choice, the manufacturing industry is facing an uphill battle.
Education and industry must work together to address this gap. According to Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez, “over the course of the last couple of decades, we have regrettably and mistakenly devalued apprenticeships and training” as a nation.