Survey Says that 600,000 Manufacturing Jobs Unfilled: SkillsUSA an Option

The Milwaukee (WI) Journal Sentinel reported, "American manufacturing companies cannot fill up to 600,000 skilled positions, even as unemployment numbers hover at historic levels, according to a survey released Monday from Deloitte & Touche and The Manufacturing Institute." The "survey polled 1,123 manufacturing company executives recently and found that 5 percent of all current manufacturing jobs are unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants. It showed that 67 percent of manufacturers have a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified employees, said Craig Giffi, vice chairman and consumer and industrial products industry leader for Deloitte LLP."

IndustryWeek reported, "The survey also found that the skills gap is hitting where it hurts most, with 64 percent of manufacturing executives lamenting that the lack of skilled workers is making it more difficult to expand their operations or boost productivity."

The Washington (DC) Business Journal reported Emily DeRocco, president of the Manufacturing Institute, part of the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington said, "These unfilled jobs are mainly in the skilled production category - positions such as machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors and technicians." DeRocco added, "Unfortunately, these jobs require the most training and are traditionally among the hardest manufacturing jobs to find existing talent to fill."

Survey respondents said the same old approaches are not enough to close the skills gap. Specifically, manufacturers should pursue more creative approaches. The Arkansas State Chamber/AIA is working to fill the skills gap through its partnership with SkillsUSA. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure that America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization serving teachers and high school and college students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations.

Formerly known as VICA (Vocational Industrial Clubs of America), SkillsUSA’s mission is to help its members become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens. SkillsUSA is an applied method of instruction for preparing America’s high-performance workers in public career and technical programs. It provides quality education experiences for students in leadership, teamwork, citizenship and character development. It builds and reinforces self-confidence, work attitudes and communication skills. It emphasizes total quality at work – high ethical standards, superior work skills, life-long education, and pride in the dignity of work. SkillsUSA also promotes understanding of the free-enterprise system and involvement in community service.

In 2011, more than 1,100 business, industry and labor sponsors actively supported SkillsUSA at the national level through financial aid, in-kind contributions, and involvement of their people in SkillsUSA activities. Our own Leadership Arkansas class members and alumni have taken a very active role in this program over the past three years.

For more information on SkillsUSA Arkansas and how your company can support this program, visit