Lack of skilled workers hurts economic growth of most, say manufacturers

More leading manufacturing executives believe the lack of skilled labor and management skills in the workforce — not current oil prices or the weak United States dollar — most hurts the growth of America's economy.

In a new poll conducted by sponsors of the Fabtech International & AWS Welding Show including Metalform, 27 percent of the executives cited the lack of employee skills as the leading obstacle to growth. Ranked second was oil prices (cited by 20 percent), followed by tax policies (11 percent), weak U.S. dollar (10 percent), the financial commitment in Iraq (9 percent), and the credit crisis (7 percent).

Also sponsored by the American Welding Society (AWS) and Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International (FMA) and supported by industry partner the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the Fabtech International & AWS Welding Show including Metalform takes place October 6-8 in Las Vegas NV.

The executives also were asked to name the two best ways to attract greater numbers of young people to manufacturing careers. In this case, the resounding response was not a surprise: 58 percent said competitive wages. More parental and teacher encouragement ranked second at 27 percent, followed by offering more relevant science and math programs in high school and college (23 percent), and greater use of computer and high-tech skills (22 percent).

Product innovation and production efficiencies are priorities for manufacturers, too, according to the executives polled. Some 22 percent said developing more innovative products and 21 percent cited improving production efficiencies as the one action companies must take to better compete in the global marketplace. Also ranked highly were offering more cost-competitive products and responding more effectively to overseas competition, each named by 15 percent of the respondents.

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