The geographic reallocation of global manufacturing is shifting, but the movement is in its early stages. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for U.S. businesses. The presence of manufacturing in the U.S. has typically been seen as a core driver of the American economy and has influenced innovation, productivity and growth. Similarly, a well-trained workforce has been a keystone to manufacturing productivity. To create a healthy U.S. environment for the onshoring trend to take root, we must re-establish a commitment to technical education, the skilled trades and the individuals who do these jobs.
Historically, communities made sure that the U.S. workforce was well equipped to sustain economic growth by working together—nationally and locally—to build an educational network that included secondary schools, community colleges, universities and technical schools. A well-trained, skilled workforce continues to be integral to achieving world-class standards for quality and efficiency. This caliber of workforce also can be America’s differentiator. As manufacturers examine the total costs of their operations, they will increasingly move away from investing in environments that only offer the cheapest wages. Instead, they will opt for communities that have highly trained workers with the flexibility and skill set to perform a wide array of jobs in different environments.
Yet, finding qualified candidates with strong analytical skills and industrial training remains one of manufacturers’ biggest challenges. For decades, industry leaders have talked about how jobs in the skilled trades are vital to the economic health of our local communities. Now is the time—when there is a growing focus on the value of onshoring—to engage new partners and cultivate new ideas. Now is the time for a renewed energy around championing the value of a well-trained domestic workforce. Working together, we can accomplish more. Through innovative approaches to public-private partnerships, we can ensure a more prosperous business environment that once again fuels productivity, innovation and growth for our local communities. MT