Skilled Workforce Development Program

A strong skilled workforce is key to reshoring and manufacturing growth. Development of a skilled workforce begins with motivating a higher quantity and quality of recruits. The program outlined below is designed to change some of the misperceptions about manufacturing and help communities develop the skilled professionals needed to reshore manufacturing to the U.S.

Misperception 1: Training is not as important as degrees

In 2012, Reshoring Initiative® President, Harry Moser, was invited to the Department of Labor (DOL) to recommend steps to prepare the skilled manufacturing workforce needed to support reshoring. He explained that a national mindshift was needed away from promoting education as the only means for achieving success to promoting both education and training as paths to high-paying careers.

In support of his idea, he showed a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) website title that shows the relationship between income and degree level. He recommended the title be changed from “Education Pays” 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.

The Department of Labor revised the site and eliminated the myopic focus on education from the heading. They also added text about “apprenticeships and other on-the-job training” and have started a survey to collect the data on apprenticeship graduates. These changes will help guidance counselors and school administrators show high caliber students that training is another way to attain good, high-paying jobs.

Misperception 2: Manufacturing in the U.S. continues to decline.

Many believe there is no future in manufacturing, that all the work will continue to be sent offshore and therefore manufacturing is a risky career choice. The following steps can help overcome this misperception:
  • Promote the success of reshoring to improve the attractiveness of manufacturing careers.
  • Recruit NAM (National Association of Manufacturing) and local groups like NTMA, PMA, EDOs, MEPs, AME and the community colleges to gather local reshoring success stories and submit these stories on our Case Studies page. Have the local media report the Local Reshoring Cases of the Month. Visit Submit a Case Study to learn more.
  • Reshoring needs recruiting, and recruiting needs reshoring. Create awareness among students, guidance counselors and schools of skill training as a means to a successful career.

Misperception 3: Manufacturing jobs offer low prestige and income.

There is a common belief that vocations/trades training is lower status than a 4-year university degree, which is “the only route to middle income careers.” Help change this misperception and increase the attractiveness of skilled training and careers by implementing the following program in your community:
  • Terminate use of the terms “vocation” and “trades.”
  • Refer to the skilled occupations as professions and the workers as professionals as is done in Germany and Switzerland, whose skilled workforce is key to their manufacturing and economic success despite wage rates well above U.S. levels.
  • Require the cooperation of K-12 educational system, community colleges, media, employers, EDOs, etc.
  • Emphasize that 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.
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See the Advanced Manufacturing Career Readiness Report for extensive skilled workforce data and available resources.

Also see this video, Attracting Millennials to Manufacturing, where younger employees make compelling cases for why Millennials should choose manufacturing careers.

Contact us today to learn how you can make your region the model for the rest of the country.