Both political parties are doing a lot of talking about jobs — talk about creating more jobs, bringing outsourced jobs back to the U.S., and beefing up the manufacturing sector so America once again makes products.
According to many U.S. manufacturing companies, the problem is not the lack of jobs — it’s the lack of skilled workers to fill the jobs that already exist. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 2012 shortage of skilled workers of three million. By 2020 that number will reach ten million in manufacturing-related industries, plus millions more in other sectors of the American economy.
Part of the problem can be attributed to automation in manufacturing, changing the skills needed from knowing how to operate machinery used in production to knowing how to operate, program, and maintain new computerized manufacturing equipment.
Another factor is the aging workforce. The average age of American skilled workers is 55. With retirement fast approaching for these critical workers, young people need to be trained to fill the skilled worker gap.
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