METALS FORUM A do-it-yourself rescue plan to save US manufacturing

Mar 01, 2008 | 01:18 PM |

America's Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century propelled economic development and served as the springboard for this nation to become a world power.

Sadly, a number of factors since World War II led to a manufacturing malaise that knocked the U.S. off this lofty production perch. New dynamics are now at work, however, which if this country responds with intelligence and fortitude can create an "Industrial Evolution" that will revive our manufacturing prowess.

A pipe dream of industry insiders? Unsubstantiated optimism expressed by corporate leaders? Wishful thinking from trade groups?

Not at all—if manufacturers, educators, trade groups and even media work to fill a critical need dramatically increasing the pool of available, highly skilled industrial workers. Many experts view filling this labor shortage as America's biggest challenge to achieve a manufacturing renaissance and, ultimately, a vastly improved economy.

How did America lose its manufacturing mojo? Is the trend reversible? And what must be done to get it back?

Discussing why the U.S. is in this predicament offers clues on how to remedy it. In some ways, the loss came as a result of a number of elements that combined to form a "perfect storm." Among them are

Today's education priorities rarely position manufacturing as a preferred choice. The U.S. Labor Department came to just that conclusion last summer when one of its economic reports stated, "Too few young people consider manufacturing careers and often are unaware of the skills needed in an advanced manufacturing environment. The K-12 system neither adequately imparts the necessary skills nor educates students on manufacturing career opportunities."....

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