The U.S. manufacturing sector is booming — adding 350,000 jobs since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017. But while a strong economy is helping to bolster the industry, it’s also being crunched by an increasingly tight labor market, leaving companies in short supply of workers they desperately need to meet capacity.
Due to a combination of economic expansion and baby boomer retirements, the Manufacturing Institute projects that by the year 2025, some 2 million jobs within the industry will go unfilled. The National Association of Manufacturers said about 500,000 manufacturing jobs are open.
The problem, experts say, is a severe skills gap.
“One of the biggest challenges facing our sector right now is the lack of that skilled workforce to fill open jobs,” said Carolyn Lee, executive director of the Manufacturing Institute, NAM’s social impact arm. “Part of the reason for this challenge is that people don’t understand what modern manufacturing is all about — so perception is a big issue. People think of manufacturing as old and antiquated when it’s not.”
The evolution of manufacturing can be felt instantly at Rockwell Automation’s Twinsburg, Ohio, facility which is sleek and outfitted with a connected enterprise system, helping to automate procedures for workers and increase efficiency. Rockwell, headquartered in Milwaukee, provides products that help companies in nearly every industry — from pharmaceutical giants to automakers and even amusement parks — to streamline their operations by integrating control and information across their systems. In the U.S., Rockwell is hiring for some 140 manufacturing roles right now and is willing to take on unskilled workers to train and get them up to speed.