Workforce Development

Manufacturing and the Job Market

November 29, 2012  • Institute Contributor

The US energy renaissance and related manufacturing job boom could be a solution for millions of unemployed Americans, according to a panel of experts gathered at the Aspen Institute yesterday. One challenge in the way of that growth: job training. In the past four years, the US natural gas boom led to affordable energy, giving US manufacturing a comparative advantage and opportunity to expand. But the workforce hasn’t been expanding.

According to Harold Sirkin of the Boston Consulting Group, the average age of a welder is 56 years old. To keep up with demand for welders, builders, and other skilled workers, federal policy must promote technical job training for young people, he said. One key to creating a new workforce of tradespeople is to change our thinking about manufacturing jobs. While these positions used to be back-breaking, they now require smart thinkers and are well-compensated. Watch the following clip about the opportunities and challenges facing the manufacturing job market in light of US energy developments.


Learn more about the changing face of US manufacturing with our Manufacturing and Society program and watch the full discussion.