The biggest problem with bringing manufacturing back to America is that there’s nearly no one around to do it.
Despite President Trump and his administration’s efforts to rekindle Made in USA, the fact remains that the nation is starved for manufacturing talent, a new survey out by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute said.
“Talent will play a critical role in the future of manufacturing—missing talent, to be specific,” Deloitte said. “We anticipate a shortage of two million workers in the next 10 years.”
And the gap isn’t just in finding people with the skills to manufacture; it’s also in getting Americans interested in pursuing long-term careers in the sector. But starved for talent or not, Americans seem to believe pretty firmly that manufacturing is necessary to the country’s success.
According to the US Public Opinion of Manufacturing study, 83 percent of Americans said manufacturing is key to the country’s prosperity and people’s standard of living, ranking it third behind technology and healthcare in terms of industries most important to securing a strong economy. By contrast, retail came seventh on that list.
That said, however, one-third of Americans surveyed said they wouldn’t encourage their child to pursue a career in manufacturing, because 77 percent of those people are worried about security and stability, 70 percent don’t think it’s a strong career path and 64 percent said it doesn’t pay enough. Those familiar with manufacturing on the other hand, were nearly two times as likely to encourage their children to pursue a career in it.
In line with what Trump wants for America, 70 percent of those surveyed said they think the U.S. should invest more in manufacturing—and part of that investment should go toward targeted programs designed to increase interest in manufacturing careers. Sixty-seven percent of people said internships and apprenticeships in manufacturing would be beneficial, while 62 percent cited manufacturing certification or degree programs to bolster interest.
What would also help is innovation.
“Americans have a strong and positive perception about future manufacturing jobs and about eight in 10 Americans believe that manufacturing jobs in the future will be more innovative requiring higher technical skills, creativity, problem solving capabilities while being more clean and safe due to automation and reduced manual labor,” Deloitte said.
Though the perception of manufacturing is mixed depending on who you ask, the Deloitte survey found that American parents, Gen X and those already familiar with manufacturing rank it the highest for creating new jobs.
“While there is still plenty of room to grow, the 2017 perception about the future of manufacturing is on the rise and many believe that the U.S. manufacturing industry is high-tech, can compete globally, and will grow stronger in the long term, compared to that in 2014,” according to Deloitte.