South Carolina Manufacturing: The National Scorecard

The recently released 2013 Manufacturing + Logistics National Report from the Ball State Center for Business and Economic Research gives South Carolina positive grades for “manufacturing industry health” and “global reach,” but handed the state near-failing grades for several predictors of future success.

South Carolina scored an “A” for overall Manufacturing Industry Health. But future growth potential is clouded by some troublesome grades in the new study, “2013 Manufacturing and Logistics National Report.”

In the critical category of “Human Capital,” the Palmetto State scored a D. Assessing the importance of workforce readiness, the researchers report:

No factor matters more to businesses than the quality and availability of labor. Workers represent the largest single cost of doing business, but, more importantly, they are the source of most innovation and process improvements that distinguish successful firms from those that are not successful.

Last Thursday, Charleston Post & Courier business reporter Melanie Balog did a follow-up interview with Michael Hicks, the director at the Ball State Business and Economic Research center. According to Hicks, who has significant ties to South Carolina, “The metrics that really hurt the South in general … are all about educational attainment. It’s not just current levels of educational attainment, but future levels.”

Bottom line, according to Hicks, “as businesses are looking for employees to replace that turnover in manufacturing, they’re going to use education as a signal that they’re teachable people.”

We suggest reviewing both the study and Balog’s analysis (linked here). The findings may come as no surprise to most South Carolinians, but the long term prosperity of our state depends on taking steps to close the education gap and preparing young people for the opportunities ahead.

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