A rebound in U.S. manufacturing is being inhibited by a lack of skilled workers, Mayor Greg Fischer told a Brookings Institution forum on Tuesday.
Speaking in Washington, Fischer recommended investments in high schools, middle schools and technical colleges for training a new workforce. More investment was also needed to promote manufacturing as an attractive career path, he added.
“One of the rock star positions in an manufacturing plant would be an industrial maintenance technician,” Fischer said. “These guys — and they’re usually guys — they can fix anything. Whether it’s a hammer or a computer, they can fix anything.
“Very highly skilled and absolutely necessary to keep manufacturing plants running. This was lost a little bit when America off-shored manufacturing.”
Fischer was among a group of business and government leaders gathered with the Brookings Institution. They discussed strategies for fostering economic growth in the U.S.
The country has an aging workforce and needs more people with industrial “know-how,” Fischer said.
The economic recovery in the U.S. would be further along if there were more people skilled in industrial technology, Fischer argued. He said tens of millions of people want to work but they lack the training manufacturing companies now require.
The U.S.’s current skilled manufacturing workforce is aging, Fischer said.
Fischer also contended that manufacturing is lacking “cultural attraction” as a career path.
“We need to get it back so that that young hotshot in high school says, ‘I want to be an industrial technician. That’s a really cool career path.I can make $80,000 to a $100,000 a year. Make a good living off that, as well.”