While the U.S. is doing some things right when it comes to encouraging companies to bring manufacturing operations back to the U.S., there is a lot more that needs to be done, according to Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
Speaking at the “Reshoring Summit” that was held in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 13 and 14, Paul pointed to efforts to close the skill gap as an example of what the U.S. is doing right. One program he highlighted is the government program called “Skills for the Future Initiative.”
The program, launched in 2010 by President Obama, is an “industry-led initiative to dramatically improve industry partnerships with community colleges and build a nationwide network to maximize workforce development strategies, job training programs and job placement,” according to the White House.
The program matches up employers like PG&E and United Technologies with community colleges to develop curricula that will prepare graduates to excel in the workforce. The President has set a goal of 5 million more community college graduates and certificates by 2020.
Scott pointed to other programs such as the National Skills Certification program, MEP programs and a renewed focus on STEM education as steps in the right direction to ensure that the manufacturing sector has qualified workers. He was also very enthusiastic about the new Innovation Institute and the government’s commitment to invest $1 billion in 15 of these centers.
Another positive development is that manufacturing is front and center in the public’s conscious starting with the presidential campaign featuring candidates strolling through working factories as opposed to past campaigns that showed factories closing. And the State of the Union address placed a strong spotlight on the sector.
In fact, manufacturing in America is quite popular with the public. In a 2011 poll, conducted by AAM, 97% have a favorable view of U.S.-made goods, which is up from 5% in 2010. And 90% support Buy America policies “to ensure that taxpayer-funded government projects use only U.S-made goods and suppliers wherever possible.”
All of these positive sentiments have lead to more research institutions--public and private--examining manufacturing issues than at any time since the early 1980s. Part of this is due to the fact that this sector has been performing well and is in fact expected to continue to outpace GDP growth.
Since 2010 almost 500,000 jobs have been created.