American manufacturing has faced many challenges over the past few decades. Today, it is facing a new one: Employers cannot find enough qualified workers with the knowledge and skills needed to meet the industry’s job demands.
The National Association of Manufacturers reports more than 600,000 unfilled jobs this year. There simply aren’t enough workers with the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) knowledge and skills needed for these and other high-tech, high-skill jobs. Schools must prepare our students now, and that preparation must start at an early age.
As the country continues to rebound from the Great Recession, manufacturing is among the fastest-growing economic sectors. The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index climbed to 59% in August, representing the 15th consecutive month of growth and the highest reading since March 2011.