Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap

As the baby boomer generation ages and jobs continue to grow in the manufacturing industry, new talent is needed to fill the gaps.

Many American manufacturers are finding that potential workers do not possess the skill sets required to perform necessary job functions. And as manufacturing activity continues to increase, the need for skilled workers increases as well.

boeingsc“… identifying any existing mismatch between the educational requirements of these jobs and the current educational profile of the workforce is a necessary first step towards ensuring that South Carolinians are equipped with the necessary skill sets for these jobs,” says Joseph Von Nessen, a USC research economist studying workforce gaps.

Recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show U.S. manufacturing employs more than 12 million workers. However, according to a 2012 study by Deloitte LLP, almost 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled. And this number could increase as Americans age out of the workforce.

By 2030, more than 20 percent of Americans are projected to be aged 65 and over, further depleting the number of skilled manufacturing laborers, especially among the upper management of large companies.

Ultimately, it is up to the states and the manufacturers themselves to do more to assure a strong and stable pipeline of talent.

In 2007, South Carolina’s Chamber of Commerce began an apprenticeship program, featuring a modest tax credit ($1,000 per position for four years).

“Apprenticeship is an integral part of the reason that manufacturing is on the rise in the state of South Carolina,” says Brad Neese, head of the program. When Apprenticeship Carolina started, there were 90 companies participating—now there are more than 630.

What can your company do to help close the gap?

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