Reversing the Trend: Strategies for Addressing Decline in U.S. Manufacturing

Though specific statistics vary, it is clear that manufacturing and distribution industry employment has been consistently declining for a number of years. In a recent article for Manufacturing Business Technology, Greg Chesnutt, president and CEO of Prime Technological Services, offers a deeper analysis of the situation, taking a look at a variety of areas, including contributing factors to the employment decline, potential forthcoming trends in the sector, and possible strategies for future growth. He offers three recommendations for reversing the manufacturing and distribution sector’s employment trend:

  1. “Claim the industries where we can create jobs and grow the economy”—Chesnutt suggests that the U.S. needs to do some self-evaluation in order to determine in which manufacturing and distribution niche it will find the greatest success. He recommends that the country focus on areas that necessitate highly-skilled workers and leave the unskilled labor up to automation, as much as possible. He explains that “doing so drives job creation and economic growth while establishing a strong foundation for the re-emergence of manufacturing.”
  2. “Strengthen the integration between design and manufacturing, and focus on innovation and speed as differentiators”—The author suggests that rather than looking at design and manufacturing and distribution as two separate processes, U.S. manufacturers distributors should strive to integrate the two in order to increase speed-to-market of their products. The ability to address manufacturing and distribution concerns both in concert with and early on in the process of the design cycle can be of great benefit to manufacturers.
  3. “Build a skilled careers workforce that meets the need of the new manufacturing and distribution economy”—According to projected statistics, despite the recent return of manufacturing and distribution jobs to the U.S., there exists a large skills gap that makes filling available positions difficult or impossible. Chesnutt suggests that encouraging the pursuit of trade/skill education among high school graduates could help develop the skilled workforce that is lacking in the U.S. manufacturing and distribution sector.

Chesnutt sees the above three factors as critical to ensuring the success of the U.S. manufacturing and distribution industry. He concludes that “if we work together to strengthen the industry and the workforce, we’ll re-establish manufacturing and distribution as an integral industry in the American economy.”

To read the article in full, visit Manufacturing Business Technology.