11/17/2014 09:09 am ET Updated Jan 17, 2015

Closing The Skills Gap for New Manufacturing Workers

There are vast numbers of excellent manufacturing jobs unfilled today because employers cannot find applicants qualified to fill them. Closing that gap -- putting qualified people into advanced manufacturing jobs -- means we must address both the demand and the supply side of the equation.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Manufacturing Institute are working with EverFi on more sophisticated training materials on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) into K-12 schools and beyond. It will use its interactive digital learning courses to introduce students to the technical skills needed to be competitive in a rapidly evolving global economy. Students with access to EverFi's immersive digital learning platform will learn about exciting, high-growth careers in manufacturing and the pathways to take advantage of them.

The Institute through its association with the 14,000 member NAM is uniquely placed to address the demand side of the equation working with real world manufacturers to determine where the best career opportunities lie. The Manufacturing Institute's Dream It, Do It program is already steering many bright young people into manufacturing careers and will now be coordinating with EverFI to encourage a more intense focus on STEM related subjects at all levels of learning. All of this will be coordinated with the NAM Task Force on Competitiveness & the Workforce which is working to promote U.S. manufacturing, and annual Manufacturing Day when more than 1,500 manufacturers open their facilities to the public to demonstrate the industry's exciting new career opportunities.

I foresee career opportunities emerging in these eight key areas:
• Digital technologies are rapidly transforming virtually transforming the factory floor creating opportunities for skills in digital technology and software applications.
• Energy -- serving the entire spectrum of the energy boom from natural gas to oil to solar panels and wind turbines.
• The automobile/truck industry is growing about 20 percent a year and is more reliant than ever on automation, robots and advanced materials.
• Aerospace and transportation are seeing a great increase in employment and this field is obviously highly reliant on advanced technologies.
• Medical care has emerged as one of the biggest sectors of our economy. Technical jobs handling new medical devices are providing excellent career opportunities to thousands.
• There are wonderful things going on in biotechnology, and abundant career opportunities.
• Additive manufacturing, sometimes called 3D printing, may be the most exciting new field of all using computers to make physical models of new designs in hours instead of days. Eventually it will supplant many forms of traditional manufacturing.
• Sustainable manufacturing is emerging as a subset of its own. Manufacturing will always pose unique challenges to environmental protection, and emerging technologies will both complicate those challenges and offer innovative ways of dealing with the,

The challenge of preparing young people for jobs in modern high tech manufacturing is vital to them and their future as citizens. This new collaboration between the Manufacturing Institute and EverFi offers a promising opportunity to build a workforce ready talent pipeline in communities across the country.


Jerry Jasinowski, an economist and author, served as President of the National Association of Manufacturers for 14 years and later. You can quote from this with attribution. Please let me know if you would like to speak with Jerry. (November 2014)