Filling the education gap

Manufacturing is coming back to the U.S., but along with the benefits of an improved economy comes the challenge of finding people who can actually do a good job at the work being offered. Many people don't have the skills for the openings that are coming up, and so companies have begun hiring for attitude and training new graduates fresh out of school.

For those in the recruiting industry, this is a good time to work in the manufacturing sector because so many jobs are open and few qualified candidates exist. Finding that perfect match between worker and employer that results in the best return on investment can be a rewarding experience.

Filling out the manufacturing skills gap
The National Association of Manufacturers says there is a major disjunction between the ability of the U.S. labor market to meet demands in the manufacturing field to satisfy a U.S. hunger for products made domestically. Often what is built in the U.S. is highly sophisticated and made by machines. Today's workers need technical skills more than manual dexterity or the ability to use tools. Automation is much more prevalent and the people who succeed in the industry typically have programming skills and a knack for fixing and working with machines.

The recent increase in the number of trade schools that have been opened seeks to fill the gap between workers who lack technical skills and employers who need tech-savvy recruits. NAM has taken upon itself the job of increasing the number of these training facilities. The group has created a task force designed to help make the U.S. as competitive in the manufacturing industry as it was during the time when cars were still being manufactured in Detroit in large numbers.  According to NAM, the issue is largely one of education – not only the lack of trade schools but the failure in the development of a high school curriculum that prepares students for what they  need to know to get the jobs of the future.

"We realize now, more clearly than ever, that we must align education, economic development, workforce, and business agendas to develop the talent necessary for success in a global economy. Unfortunately, our current education system appears almost completely disconnected from the economy at large," said NAM in a statement on Area Development.

Benefits of U.S. Manufacturing
Changing the schools to reflect the growing need for people who can handle manufacturing jobs will ultimately improve the U.S. as a whole and not just a single industry. The landscape of manufacturing is changing in the world. China is no longer as cheap to produce goods in as it used to be, so many people are leaving the country to come back to the U.S. An additional advantage America has over its competitors is the ability to deliver custom products very quickly, Forbes cited. The country has the technical wherewithal with tools like 3D printers and customization software to actually do special jobs and churn them out quickly using the fast and efficient logistics chain that has been developing. For companies that need to send out products very fast, it is a major advantage to be in the U.S.

Interestingly, the American manufacturing industry has actually benefited from its education, even if it isn't where it should be in terms of bringing out suitable employees. No matter how bad the schools are in the U.S., the ones in China are worse, according to Forbes. A large number of thought leaders travel back and forth to teach that country's factory workers how to build things.

As the U.S. bolsters it education, this advantage will likely grow.