Economic reports over the last few years have been consistently raising the alarm about the United States’ substantial manufacturing skills gap. In 2011 alone, 600,000 manufacturing jobs went unfilled1, due to a lack of adequately STEM-educated workers to fill them. Economists are warning that over the next ten years, “A total of over 3.4 million manufacturing jobs will be available, and manufacturers will be able to fill fewer than half of these job openings due to the skills shortage.”1 Though the manufacturing sector is experiencing a resurgence after the 2008 recession, supply will not be able to keep up with demand if something doesn’t change to better prepare the next generation of manufacturing workers. Furthermore, because manufacturing advancement is a solid indicator of total economic expansion and health, a manufacturing stagnation in the US could trigger widespread economic problems1. How then can manufacturing business owners help educators and workers catch up to fill our skills gap and keep the manufacturing sector booming?

Create Your Own Learning Programs

That might seem like a bold directive, but we promise it’s worth the effort. Creating your own training schools and programs can give prospective and current employees without the means or desire to obtain significant higher education in a STEM field the opportunity to learn the technical skills needed in your growing and advancing operation. Investing in your own workforce provides pathways for stagnating employees to seek upward mobility within your company, rather than leaving for better opportunities elsewhere. Not only will these skilled employees be able to continue working while studying, they will also prevent high turn-over. Increased on-the-job opportunity is also a great way to draw in new talent. The more you have to offer the next generation of laborers, the more loyal and hardworking they will be.

At CNC Solutions, we practice what we preach. Our Innovation and Technical Training Center offers a three-day course designed to prepare skilled workers to manage FANUC robotic handling systems2. Even better, our course is open to anyone looking to increase their knowledge of FANUC technology, not just existing CNC Solutions employees. By sharing skills and education beyond our own operation, we’re investing in the manufacturing workforce as a whole. That leads us to our next point…

Community Engagement: You Get Back What You Put In

In addition to creating education programs for existing professionals already in the workforce, it’s also paramount to prepare those still in school for the manufacturing sector to prevent our skills gap from widening in the future. All across the country, educators, legislators, and businesses are partnering to improve STEM education in the United States. We’ve talked about STEM before, but for those who haven’t yet heard the term, the acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Better educating students who might one day become interested in a STEM career as young adults helps prepare today’s kids for tomorrow’s economy.

Manufacturers can help in a variety of ways, from funding STEM education initiatives to offering field trips and plant tours to local schools. With greater community involvement, the higher profile manufacturing becomes, which in turn helps students thinking about their future careers learn more about the opportunities out there for them to pursue. CNC Solutions actively engages with local school districts for this reason. Recently, our president held a tech education discussion at our training facility, which you can read more about here.

Together, manufacturers from all over the country can invest in today’s and tomorrow’s workforce to ensure that the manufacturing industry, and our economy as a whole, continue to prosper. For more information on our training programs, or any questions on the kinds of STEM initiatives CNC Solutions takes part in, contact us by clicking here .

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