The skills gap has been a nagging issue for years. But in the face of fierce global competition, advocates for U.S. manufacturing say we can't wait any longer to address the problem.
Among those offering ideas is Manpower Group, which advises manufacturers to engage in public-private task forces "for developing market-specific solutions" to address the skills gap.
In February, the Milwaukee-based provider of workforce services invited manufacturers, trade associations, educators and government officials to its headquarters "to discuss top trends in contemporary manufacturing and the skill levels and technical specifications missing at large from the U.S. workforce," the company said.
The event in Milwaukee served as a kickoff for the company's Manpower Manufacturing Challenge Council.
Participants met in small-group strategy sessions to identify innovative solutions to solving skills-gap issues, the company said.
They all agreed that U.S. manufacturing needs to be re-energized and rebranded "to make it more compelling to younger generations entering the workforce," ManpowerGroup said.
Attendees also pointed to the need for manufacturers to partner with schools and government agencies "to raise awareness of manufacturing as a viable and needed profession that drives healthy economies."
Working Together to Attract Young People to Manufacturing
Later this year, Manpower will host additional Manufacturing Challenge Council events in top U.S. manufacturing markets to address local solutions to the global skills shortage and encourage the collective flow of ideas and solutions from business, educators and government, the company said.
"Working together, employers and educators can bring added focus and prestige to increasingly technical manufacturing roles, ultimately attracting more young people to these important professions," said Jorge Perez, Manpower senior vice president, North America.
"Most people don't realize that careers in manufacturing today are innovative and creative and require not only high-level skills to operate technical equipment and machines, but also problem-solving and collaborative skills to drive results. Techs in manufacturing are in demand and individuals with the right skills and certification can count on steady employment and excellent earning potential."
Research Papers Address Skills Gap
Coinciding with the Manpower Manufacturing Challenge Council, the company released a series of research papers entitled "The Future of the Manufacturing Workforce."
Authored by Manpower Group and Harvard Business School visiting professor Tom Davenport, the papers detail the problems associated with industry's skills shortage as well as the solutions.
ManpowerGroup also partnered with the Society for Human Resource Management Foundation to sponsor "Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap," an executive briefing that highlights four ways to close the skills gap. The paper's four recommended strategies are partnerships with community colleges, apprenticeship programs, nonprofit coalitions and skills certifications.