Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Manufacturing Skills Gap

"Yet across the heartland...one hears the same concern: a shortage of skilled workers capable of running increasingly sophisticated, globally competitive factories...[I]t represents an opportunity, should Americans be wise enough to embrace it, to reduce the nation's stubbornly high unemployment rate."

Joel Kotkin, "Wanted blue-Collar Workers: Who will power America's new industrial revolution?" City Journal, Autumn, 2011.

Not all conservatives are snipping at President Obama's hopes and plans for a revival of manufacturing in the United States. In fact, there is a strand of important conservative thinking about the role of skills, vocational education, and community colleges. Unfortunately, this interest in skills and manufacturing hasn't connected enough with ground-level sector-based workforce partnerships around the country that are bringing together businesses and educational institutions to craft training programs to fill the manufacturing skill gap. I'm thinking of Austin Polytechnic high school in Chicago, the Wisconsin Regional Training partnership in Milwaukee, and advanced manufacturing training efforts in Cleveland, Cincinnati, the Des Moines, just to name a few. Many of these efforts are brought together in the National Fund for Workforce Solutions. To be sure, there will be differences approach, but I suspect the commonalities might be stronger.

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