A new report estimates that a majority of needed manufacturing jobs could go unfilled over the next decade without better cooperation by industry, government and higher education.

The analysis from Electronic components distributor Newark element14 estimated that 2 million of the 3.5 million jobs needed in manufacturing by 2025 could remain vacant.

“It should alarm everyone because our economy relies so heavily on manufacturing,” said Newark element14’s Becky McMorrow.

Although retirements in the baby-boomer generation and changes in federal labor policies helped create the skills gap, the report adds that younger workers also contribute to the problem. Younger generations tend to hold negative perceptions about manufacturing, the report said. They also lack needed skills in science, math and engineering, and suffer from the decline of technical education programs.

The report also stated that…

  • Companies lose $14,000 on average for every manufacturing job that goes unfilled for at least three months, and that those vacancies negatively impact employee morale and productivity
  • U.S. apprenticeship programs fell by 40 percent between 2003 and 2013 (despite the fact that interest in STEM careers is at a record high)
  • Nearly $1 billion in grant funding went to establish manufacturing programs at community colleges in recent years, with another $100 million currently available for similar efforts

McMorrow said steps to bolster training need to happen both in industry and in government. She added that manufacturers need to reach out to suppliers or nearby technical colleges in order to account for the loss in apprenticeships. The Newark element14 report praised several states for taking action to address the problem, including new aerospace training programs in California, an accelerated manufacturing initiative in Illinois, community college machining training in North Carolina and apprenticeships in Wisconsin.

Excerpts from this article were taken from impomag.com.