The skills gap facing American manufacturing has been viewed as a crisis by some observers, but a new study says the issue is not that severe and is not likely to thwart the sector’s revival.
Action needs to be taken now to stem problems that could threaten a renaissance, however, The Boston Consulting Group said.
The firm said the U.S. is short 80,000 to 100,000 highly skilled manufacturing workers. That’s less than 1 percent of the 11.5 million manufacturing workers in the U.S., and less than 8 percent of its 1.4 million highly skilled manufacturing workers.
Only seven states show significant or severe skills gaps, the study found. The shortages are caused by location and job classes.
“Shortages of highly skilled manufacturing workers exist and must be addressed, but the numbers aren’t as bad as many believe,” said Harold L. Sirkin, senior partner and coauthor of the research. “The problem is very localized. It’s much less of an issue in larger communities, where supply and demand evens out more efficiently thanks to the bigger pool of workers.
“Investment in training and skills development needs to be stepped up,” he said, “but there’s little reason to believe that the U.S. cannot remain on track for a manufacturing renaissance by 2020.”