Manufacturers Fix America’s Skills Gap by Turning to Schools

The “skills gap” in America is reaching epidemic proportions.

According to a recent study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, the U.S. manufacturing skills gap may leave 2.4 million jobs in the next decade. The unbridgeable skills gap is anticipated to have an economic impact of $2.5 trillion nationally.

These labor shortages will intensify in digital talent, skilled production and operation management jobs within the next three years.

The most promising approach that manufacturing companies seem to agree on is to turn to a previously untapped talent pool – high school students.

Manufacturers Fix America’s Skills Gap

School districts who invite manufacturers to train students in basic operations would allow students to leave high school with real-world experience.

Manufactures are partnering with high schools and vocational training programs to offer more internship and apprentice opportunities.

Ten states, including Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, and Tennessee have established German-style apprenticeship programs with help from the German American Chamber of Commerce (GACC). German manufacturing companies including Bosch, Stihl, and Volkswagen have partnered with GACC to bring apprenticeship programs to the US. While most of these companies focus on the technical aspect of the apprenticeship, the GACC oversees the quality of the programs.

Schools officials expect such programs to explode in the coming years. But there’s also a negative connotation around the word ‘manufacturing.’ People think its physically demanding work requiring high levels of concentration in exchange for decent wages and quality of life. Industries that suffer skill shortages should increase wages, but manufacturing wages have remained stagnant. Better wages would make manufacturing jobs attractive to the next generation of workers.

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