The Skills Gap May Be the Biggest Opportunity of a Generation
The manufacturing industry of a country is directly proportional to its gross domestic product (GDP). In the US, every dollar spent on manufacturing contributes $1.32 to the economy, and manufacturing supports more than 17 million workers.
Over the next decade, the US manufacturing industry is facing a serious crisis, the skills gap. More than 3.5 million jobs will need to be staffed with 2.7 million manufacturing workers retiring. With the skills gap growing larger, it is presenting several groundbreaking manufacturing opportunities.
With 40% of the students who begin a 4 year college program not finishing, and the mounting college debt crisis, it is prime time for our society to start embracing the value of vocational education. We have spent a generation telling our children that everyone should go to college…..that only a college education will allow you to reach your maximum potential.
But what exactly is maximum potential? Is it graduating from a 4 year university with a degree in Liberal Arts and $80k in debt, only to find a $15 an hour job, so you have live at home with your parents? Or is it a 2 year vocational degree, graduating with no debt that allows you to get a job, that may start out at $15 per hour, but has the potential to earn $80k per year after paying your dues and earning some seniority?
We, as a collective, have to start placing a higher value on the creators in our society. People that use their hands as well as their minds to produce a tangible. We have spent the last decade convincing ourselves that the only jobs worth pursuing were those which created no tangibles……financial services, hospitality, medical, etc.
But for our country to continue to be the leader in the world, we have to start making things again. We can’t go on exporting technology in exchange for goods and continue to grow. I believe we have to start placing higher value on those items that we make. And that means we may have to pay a little more.
So, this skills gap presents the opportunity of a generation. We have a need to fill 3.5 million jobs over the next decade, and we have an emerging generation of young minds who need careers. We just need to communicate the value to society these jobs entail. Making things is important. Creators are important. Tangibles are important.