Manufacturing barometers out of Chicago and Kansas City produced some rosy news this week, though hiring didn't necessarily keep up with output. McKinsey Global Institute, however, recently listed manufacturing among the six sectors expected to create 85 percent of the new jobs this decade.
CNNMoney.com also cites data from Chmura Economics & Analytics and the U.S. Department of Labor predicting that manufacturing will provide more than 1 million jobs over the decade, with more than half in high-tech industries. At the same time, employers foresee labor shortages as factory jobs require more computer and math skills.
For instance, Financial Times calls the hiring plans at Siemens' manufacturing plant in Charlotte, N.C., a test of the caliber of the U.S. work force. The factory, which is still under construction, will produce more energy-efficient gas turbines, and the German company needs to hire 1,000 workers, including 400 in 2011. It's looking for skilled machinists and engineers to design and operate advanced computerized manufacturing equipment.
In addition to an initiative to train 10,000 engineers, President Obama recently announced the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, bringing together industry, universities and the federal government to upgrade the skills of American workers so they can take on jobs in next-generation manufacturing.
He's backing a national credentialing system for community college students and employers across manufacturing sectors, according to CNNMoney.com. The article says more than 30 states are introducing the Manufacturing Skills Certification system, which was created by The Manufacturing Institute. It's designed to make credentials portable and recognized across the manufacturing industry. According to the article:
"So if you're a company looking to hire, you'll know exactly what kind of training went into a specific degree," Obama said in an appearance earlier this month at Northern Virginia Community College. And graduates will know that the community college diploma they earn "will be valuable when you hit the job market," he added.
That effort has its detractors - there's always a critic. Some say the programs are too small to make much difference. But it's a start.