Washington, November 23:

US manufacturers are facing a growing shortage of skilled workers that will hurt their ability to compete in the global economy, a study released today showed.

The report by the National Association of Manufacturers, the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Consulting LLP found 81 per cent of companies surveyed reported difficulties finding workers with adequate skills.

The gap affected all sectors, but was notable in the fields of science and engineering, where 65 per cent of companies reported shortages. “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,” explained NAM president John Engler.

“A highly skilled, innovative ‘high performance’ workforce is essential for our manufacturing sector to remain vibrant and to compete successfully in a global economy. 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.”

Richard Kleinert of Deloitte said the problem “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 are also in short supply, with 65 per cent of respondents reporting current deficiencies.”

“Manufacturers face the additional challenge of poor skill levels among current employees,” added Kleinert, noting that 46 per cent reported inadequate problem solving skills among employees and more than a third cited insufficient reading, writing and communications skills in the workplace.