A recent poll conducted by cutting tool manufacturer Kennametal shows a wide gap between the public’s perception of manufacturing and the facts about the sector’s current strength and future viability.
According to the survey, 65 percent of Americans believe manufacturing jobs are desirable, high-paying and high-tech, and 70 percent believe manufacturing jobs are important for domestic job creation. However, only 9 percent see manufacturing as a bright spot in the economy, while only 17 percent think manufacturing has a positive outlook in the future. Similarly, only 11 percent believe manufacturing is growing, while 68 percent believe that a perceived lack of manufacturing jobs is more significant than the lack of training required to fill those jobs. A full 71 percent of respondents would not recommend a manufacturing career to young Americans, primarily because they believe no jobs are available.
Kennametal points out that data from other surveys and studies contradicts these beliefs. For example, a November 2011 forecast from the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) predicted manufacturing production will outpace the overall economy and grow 3.4 percent this year, adding 170,000 jobs. Meanwhile, nearly 600,000 manufacturing jobs remain unfilled, despite a national unemployment rate near 9 percent, according to the Skills Gap study, which was conducted in July and August 2011 by Deloitte Consulting LLP and the Manufacturing Institute. That same study found that 67 percent of surveyed manufacturers reported a shortage of available, qualified workers.