Developing the next generation of manufacturing workers is essential to the success of U.S. manufacturing and the economy. A robust pool of qualified job candidates is imperative in meeting U.S. manufacturers’ needs for capacity, productivity and innovation for expansion, reshoring and FDI (foreign direct investment). A skilled workforce will help us overcome our lack of global cost-competitiveness and drive long-term reshoring and manufacturing success.

The Cost of the Skills Gap

Approximately 77% of manufacturers say they will have ongoing difficulties in attracting and retaining workers in the next few years. According to a Deloitte study, “Left unabated, the manufacturing skills gap, which is now anticipated to leave 2.1 million jobs unfilled by 2030, could cost the U.S. economy as much as $1 trillion.”

Closing the Gap

Here are some companies, communities and training initiatives that are collaborating to close the skills gap and up-skill and re-skill the U.S. manufacturing workforce.

Tooling giant Stanley Black & Decker is changing the misperception narrative with an up to $25 million initiative to advance and accelerate vocational skills training programs over the next five years. The training programs are designed to change misperceptions that skilled trade careers are not well paying.

STS Group AG, a Germany-based auto-parts manufacturer, is investing $39 million to set up its first U.S. manufacturing operation in Virginia that will create 120 jobs. Job creation support will be provided through the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, a workforce initiative for new facility start-ups that provides recruitment and training services that are fully customized to a company’s unique products, processes, equipment, standards and culture. The program is furnished at no cost to qualified companies.

The Florida Job Growth Grant Fund awarded $3.7 million in funding to help to develop a talent pipeline in central Florida. The grant will help Valencia College develop a new program that will train students in utilizing robotics technology for semiconductor manufacturing.

The Manufacturing PA Training-to-Career Grant program awarded $199,125 to Northampton Community College to implement Pathways to Manufacturing, a seven-week program that will introduce manufacturing occupations to low-income individuals, veterans and high-school graduates with uncertain post-graduation plans.

National Tooling and Machining Association; SME; Reshoring Initiative

Three logos: National Tooling and Machining Association; SME; Reshoring Initiative

Supporting Workforce Development

The National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA) is a U.S.-based membership trade association committed to strengthening and helping to ensure the future of manufacturing. NTMA is working to help fill the manufacturing skills gap through a suite of programs targeted at students and their families, schools, the current workforce and support organizations.

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is a nonprofit association of professionals, educators and students committed to promoting and supporting the manufacturing industry. Through Tooling U-SME, webinars, the SME Education Foundation, the SME PRIME schools initiative and more, SME creates opportunities to help advance today’s workforce and develop the next generation of manufacturing professionals.

The Reshoring Initiative encourages companies to document and promote their cases of reshoring. Students, guidance counselors and parents will see that manufacturing is, once again, a great career choice. For help doing so, contact me at 847-867-1144 or

Let’s Collaborate

We have unlimited control over our domestic-competitiveness initiatives and our ability to achieve our ambitions. Let’s collaborate to support skilled workforce development and rebuild the U.S. manufacturing base.