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Getting the Right Labor Force

Manufacturing growth has been driving the U.S. economy since the economic implosion in 2008 and has added more than 500,000 jobs in the last three years.

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The growth in manufacturing jobs is the most since the late 1980s. More good news: Reshoring is making bigger inroads in the U.S. That’s a definite trend, even if the national media has not picked up on it yet. (Gary Mintchell is dead on in his assesment that the national media is clueless about U.S. manufacturing) 

The bad news for manufacturing is the skills gap. According to a September 2011 Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute online survey, the number of manufacturing jobs unfilled is around 600,000. But a more recent survey from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) cites a dramatically different number. The October 2012 BCG study points to 80,000 to 100,000 high-skilled manufacturing jobs available and unfilled. A recent blog post on cites these two surveys and says it really doesn’t matter what numbers are correct. Due to reshoring and the vast number of “graybeards” ready to retire, advanced manufacturing needs qualified employees with the right skills.

The post suggests the best way to solve this problem is with more training from manufacturers and better starting wages. However, manufacturers make thing and don’t necessarily specialize in training people. They need help. In late 2012, Automation World reported on an Advanced Manufacturing internship-training program—Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant—with the State of Illinois and local manufacturers that was headiing down this path. The internship program offers training by the manufacturer, and the local community college provides sound academic candidates. A local manufacturer participating in the program added,  “They are learning how to implement training programs.”

Regarding training programs, The Automation Conference in 2012 (, produced by Automation World, provided a how-to presentation on this very topic. Visit to watch Simon Nance of Stihl Inc. describe how he developed a training program for this venerable manufacturer. And consider attending TAC 2013, to get trained on additional topics.

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