This report surprised me:
US manufacturing ‘undermined by skills gap’, Financial Times: America’s ability to compete in the global economy is being undermined by a “serious shortage”, of skilled workers in manufacturing industries, according to a survey released on Tuesday. More than 80 per cent of US manufacturers are now experiencing a shortage of qualified workers, which is taking an increasingly negative toll on their ability to compete with global rivals, says the report by the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Consulting LLP. “The pain is most acute on the front line, where 90 per cent report a moderate to severe shortage of qualified skilled production employees including machinists, operators, craft workers, distributors and technicians... Engineers and scientists were also in short supply, with 65 per cent of respondents reporting current deficiencies.
The survey exposes “a widening gap between the dwindling supply of skilled workers in America and the growing technical demands of the modern manufacturing workplace,” said John Engler, NAM president. “It is essential that America close this skills gap if we are to maintain our edge in the global marketplace and remain the world’s leader in innovation.” Mr Engler said both the public and private sectors had to take “urgent action“ to improve skills and competitiveness. ... If manufacturers are to remain competitive, the issues of education and training reform must be given at least as much attention as other top business concerns like trade, taxes, energy and regulatory reform.”
Manufacturers face the additional challenge of poor skill levels among current employees, according to the report. The skills gap threatens America’s ability to compete “in today’s fast-paced and increasingly demanding” global economy. “It is emerging as our nation’s most pressing business issue,” stated Manufacturing Institute President Jerry Jasinowski. “Nearly three out of four manufacturers surveyed believe that a high performance workforce is the most important driver of future business success. “
I'll say it again. Education is a key factor in our ability to compete in the emerging global marketplace.