In recent decades, the labor market has experienced a dramatic shift, and it’s not just the iPhone 7. Advances in technology and innovation have been on the rise, but the U.S. has failed to adapt accordingly. Due to a misguided education system and public misconceptions, the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields labor market is suffering. Positions continue to remain unfilled and U.S. manufacturing is suffering.
The Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act funding has been put on delay which will only amplify the economic and workforce problems. With such a setback, more manufacturing companies across the country will pay the price.
For over 30 years, the Perkins Act has been a driving force in giving momentum to the U.S. workforce through career and technical education (CTE) programs emphasizing STEM competency at high school and post-secondary institutions. Although the Perkins Act has helped, existing legislation is not enough to solve the problem. The misconception of CTE as less prestigious than college degree and the lack of STEM proficiency and skills among the workforce has hindered the growth of the U.S. manufacturing workforce.
STEM careers in manufacturing arrant only beneficial to the overall economy, they’re also essential to the individual worker. The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) notes that the average U.S. manufacturing worker earns 20 percent more income than workers in other industries. A 2013 STEM Connector report revealed that student interest in STEM has risen over the last 10 years, but unfortunately diminishes for three out of five high school graduates as they advance.
An analysis of labor statistics data shows that the gap of STEM workers will keep growing and by 2025, 2 million jobs in manufacturing alone will require workers. Studies from CareerBuilder and the Manufacturing Institute have revealed that companies lose an average of $14,000 for every unfilled manufacturing position. That’s an 11 percent loss of each manufacturer’s annual earnings. Time is running short. Who is going to fill these positions? Will it end up being passed down to a few other generations? When will we have had enough waiting?
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