Lacking the skills

Manufacturing companies have the obligation to act proactively to prevent a widening skills gap.

Ronald Dixon

There are several short-term economic issues dominating the news, such as the fiscal cliff, which will trigger huge spending cuts and tax hikes if left alone by late December.

One issue that is not talked about as much in the media, however, is the skills gap.

If a field has a skills gap it has job openings that cannot be filled because applicants lack the necessary skills. The issue is mostly a concern when discussing manufacturing jobs due to the rigor and special training needed to perform the tasks required to be a successful worker.

In the short term, this is not a big problem. In fact, only about 100,000 current manufacturing jobs are suffering from a skills gap. In the long term, however, as baby boomers continue to retire, this number is projected to grow to 875,000 by 2020, and those needed positions will be outsourced.

One of the best ways to solve this issue is by having companies play a proactive role in ensuring that their future employees receive the adequate training that they will need to perform the jobs well.

A company, for example, can recruit early, right out of high school or college, to ensure early investments in young adults. Not only would these companies be investing in their own future, but they would also hire from an age group with the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

Besides recruiting early, companies must take the proper steps to train potential workers so that they become skilled. Trade schools may provide some training in the general field of manufacturing, but if companies don’t make the necessary investments in their future employees, then it will be significantly harder for these workers to become skilled.

Although we have more pressing economic events in the short term, job creators have the obligation to think about the long term. If they do not, then more of the 21st century high-skilled manufacturing jobs will be outsourced, which will have a negative impact on the economy.