It is not a secret that American manufacturing has faced a number of significant obstacles recently, with the ever growing technology and market disruptors. Everywhere it seems employers in the manufacturing sector are closing. Thus adding fire to the flame of already languishing communities, many of which have been caused by labor disputes between executives and employees. The mainstream perception of the industry has been that of low wages and egregious working conditions, none of which help to attract a fresh talent pool. Will this challenge prevent American manufacturing from making its glorious comeback, denying future generations from the satisfaction of being a part of American made products?
In response to the declining number of skilled trade graduates, the manufacturing marketplace will be in stiff competition with other industries to fill high-skilled positions in their sectors. The current model requires companies to utilize underperforming staffing and contracting firms while others are left to search for individuals within the organization with strong foundational skills to be efficiently trained to move into higher-level positions.
This, of course, is not a bad thing, however, most companies are not equipped to handle such a task while running a full time operation. Another disruptor in the marketplace are the high numbers of foreign-born workers in manufacturing, creating language barriers as a key challenge. The decline in the youth workforce has also had an impact on the manufacturing industry, which historically relied heavily on youth for part-time and seasonal labor help.
Identifying the critical components are the key elements necessary to address the issues head on. Americans must create total workforce reform from Main Street to Wallstreet, from Pennsylvania Avenue and back home. This is a good way to strengthen the strained communities in dire need of career pathways and an actionable solution that may bridge the gap between industry demand and job seekers.
By Xavier Hernandez
IDES Illinois Department of Labor
Cook County Workforce Partnership
Image Courtesy of Maryland GovPics’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License