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The serious shortage of qualified employees that a vast majority of U.S. manufacturers are now experiencing is taking an increasingly negative toll on America's ability to compete in the global economy, according to a survey report recently released by the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Consulting LLP.
More than 80 percent of manufacturers surveyed are experiencing an overall shortage of qualified workers, the survey found. Qualified skilled production employees seem to be the shortest in supply, with 90 percent of manufacturers reporting a moderate to severe shortage of machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors and technicians. Engineers and scientists are also in short supply, with 60% of respondents reporting deficiencies.
The survey exposes a widening gap between the dwindling supply of skilled workers in America and the growing technical demands of the modern manufacturing workplace," NAM President John Engler said. "It is essential that America close this skills gap if we are to maintain our edge in the global marketplace and remain the world's leader in innovation.
The study also found that manufacturers are facing an additional challenge of poor skill levels among current employees. About 46% reported inadequate problem solving skills and more than a third cited insufficient reading, writing and communications skills in the workplace.
These shortages are currently affecting 86% of survey respondents' ability to meet customer demands. More than half reported difficulty achieving necessary production levels and 43% reported difficulties increasing productivity.
Among its recommendations, the 2005 Skills Gap Report urges:
The 2005 Skills Gap Report is based on responses from more than 800 manufacturers of all sizes nationwide and is the first new comprehensive survey about the American manufacturing workforce in five years. It is available here.