American manufacturing booms, but talent shortage brews

A new report jointly released by The Manufacturing Institute, the 501(c)3 nonprofit workforce development and education affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers, and Deloitte, a top global consulting firm, highlights manufacturers’ concern that there is a shortage of potential candidates applying for critical jobs in the industry. 

Analyzing data made available by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and estimates of private investments from, the report’s authors calculate that 3.8 million American manufacturing jobs will be created between now and 2033. Nearly two million of these jobs could remain vacant because of a skills gap.

“Pandemic-driven shifts have already created hundreds of thousands of new jobs, and now we are seeing increased demand for digital skills that need to be met or risk further widening of the talent gap,” Manufacturing Institute President and Executive Director Carolyn Lee said .

These modern manufacturing jobs don’t necessarily resemble the iconic assembly lines of post-World War II America. Instead, many of these positions require more advanced skills, stretching beyond basic manual labor. 

“A combination of digital skills, soft skills, and high-level technical skills show the fastest compound annual growth rates in manufacturing between 2019 and 2023,” according to the report. In order for workers to acquire many of these skills, they need to undergo training or particular educational programs.

Despite this challenge, manufacturers believe that much of the talent gap can be filled through partnerships with and investments in technical colleges, industry associations, universities, and other similarly situated organizations. 

The report’s authors advise policymakers, business owners, and advocates to “look beyond the traditional talent pipeline… partnering with a variety of organizations to engage groups that may have unique barriers to entering or re-entering the workforce.”

“This report is another important reminder of how a state’s talent pipeline is essential to its manufacturing sector competitiveness,” Arizona Manufacturers Council Executive Director Grace Appelbe said. “We regularly hear from manufacturing job creators about their struggles to fill important jobs. We’ll continue to bring together manufacturers and policymakers to ensure we’re making the right moves at the K-12 and higher education levels so that students are ready for fulfilling careers in manufacturing.”

Arizona stands out nationally as a beneficiary of the manufacturing sector’s growth. A report from real estate research firm Newmark released earlier this year found that Metro Phoenix is the country’s top market for manufacturing job growth. 

Joe Pitts is a native Arizonan currently working in the public policy space. He formerly served as program director at the Arizona Chamber Foundation.

Joe Pitts

Joe Pitts is a born and bred Arizonan who formerly served as the program director at the Arizona Chamber Foundation. He graduated Arizona State University's Barrett, the Honors College in 2023 with a B.S. in Management and concurrent B.S. in Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

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