Reshoring manufacturing will require STEM skills

U.S. manufacturing has experienced a great deal of growth in the past few years, which is a positive trend for the American economy and vital to job creation. However, modern manufacturing is highly technical, and many U.S. workers do not have the necessary skills. There are as many as 600,000 open manufacturing positions that firms are unable to fill, according to The Valley Business Journal. The vacancies may continue to grow if the U.S. doesn't see better STEM education. In the meantime, firms can count on engineering recruiters to find top talent for open positions. 

Manufacturing is returning to the U.S. for many reasons, but the biggest factor companies cite in the decision to reshore operations is rising labor costs overseas. The difference between American and Chinese factory wages is expected to shrink to $7 per hour by 2015, and with the high costs of shipping products from China, offshore manufacturing is losing most of its cost advantage, The Washington Post reported. The U.S. is predicted to have lower manufacturing costs than both Europe and Japan within the next two years, and more foreign investors are considering offshoring production to North America.

American workers have also been improving productivity, which increases their attractiveness to foreign investors, The Washington Post said. The U.S. energy boom has made it possible for some U.S. companies to bring production home. Factories are being built in Texas and Pennsylvania to convert natural gas into ethylene, a key component in plastics and antifreeze. As a result of the increase in energy production, manufacturing in the U.S. has become much more advanced. 

Remaining competitive will require resolving the STEM gap
While the growth of U.S. manufacturing has increased employment opportunities in many areas, many hiring managers are slowed by the skills gap. Productivity rates have increased, and manufacturing has become less labor intensive, but it requires greater degrees of technical skills, The Valley Business Journal said. 

Shortcomings in traditional education, especially when it comes to STEM skills, have led many manufacturers to rely on in-house training to bridge the gap. However, retraining workers is not always possible. Instead of large corporations producing everything themselves, smaller firms may the ones leading the future of manufacturing, according to The Washington Post. These companies may not be able to afford to educate all employees.

As modern manufacturing becomes increasingly technical and the skills required for factory positions are more specialized, it can be a challenge for firms to find talent to fill open positions.  Manufacturing recruiters can be a source for companies looking to expand with qualified workers.