Program for Skilled Workforce Development

The Reshoring Initiative believes that skilled workforce is the key to reshoring and manufacturing growth in general. We believe that the key to skilled workforce development is motivating a higher quantity and quality of recruits. We recommend the high impact-minimal cost skilled workforce development programs outlined below and are seeking communities interested in implementing these programs.

1. Putting training on a par with education: It is necessary to change the perception that training is not as important as degrees. Here is evidence that you can make a difference. Initiative President, Harry Moser, was invited to the Department of Labor (DOL) on 9/18/12 to recommend to DOL how to prepare the skilled manufacturing workforce needed to support reshoring. He started by telling DOL that they were part of the problem because their website was biased towards education at the expense of training. He showed a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website that shows the relationship between income and degree level and that was headed “Education Pays.” He recommended that the title be changed to “Education and Training Pay” and that the income of workers that have passed an apprenticeship or have a strong portfolio of NIMS, MSSC or AWS certificates be shown along with the degree holders. DOL immediately accepted the need to revise the site. They eliminated the “selling” of education from the heading and added text about “apprenticeships and other on-the-job training.” They have started a survey to collect the data on apprenticeship graduates. By making available to guidance counselors and school administrators data showing that there are other ways to win we will attract higher caliber recruits.

2. Overcoming the Perception of manufacturing decline: Belief that there is no future in manufacturing, that all the work will go offshore, is a major image issue to overcome:

    a. Promote the success of reshoring to improve the attractiveness of manufacturing careers.
    b. Recruit NAM (National Association of Manufacturing) and local groups like NTMA, PMA, EDOs, MEPs, AME and the community colleges to gather local reshoring cases. Publish in local media as the regional “Reshoring Cases of the Month.” and submit nationally. Reshoring Initiative’s online Case reporting feature is available for this process.

    c. Reshoring needs recruiting. Recruiting needs reshoring to be visibly succeeding.
    d. Benefit: Motivates students to select, guidance counselors to recommend and schools to provide skills training.

3. Replace “vocations” and ”trades” with “professions”: Belief that vocations/trades training is lower status than a 4-year university degree which is “the only route to middle income careers.”

    a. Terminate the use of the terms “vocation” and “trades.”
    b. Refer to the skilled occupations as professions and the workers as professionals as is done in Germany and Switzerland.
    c. Requires the cooperation of K-12 educational system, community colleges, media, employers, EDOs, etc.
    d. Skilled manufacturing technologists, especially those that have passed an apprenticeship, are extremely well trained, work in their area of training and earn an income at least comparable to university graduates. Sounds like a profession!

    e. Benefit: Increases attractiveness of skills training and careers.

4. Replace “Middle Skills” with “Technical Skills”: These jobs are often referred to as the “middle skills” jobs. We suggest finding a more positive term. It's clear to us that a toolmaker that passed an apprenticeship and is good at his/her profession is at least as high skilled as an English graduate who is pushing papers in an insurance office. Here are some alternatives to “middle skills”:

    1. Technical skills

    2. STEM skills

    3. Career skills

Perhaps the right solution is to start over using a descriptive instead of hierarchical terminology, as follows:

    1. Academic skills replaces high skills

    2. Technical skills replaces middle skills

    3. Manual skills replaces low skills

We would be delighted to help make your region the model for the rest of the country.

Harry C. Moser

Founder and President

Reshoring Initiative

Office +01 847 726 2975



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