Emerald Group Publishing Limited
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Precision skills shortage threatens "America's Edge"
Article Type: News and views From: Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology: An International Journal, Volume 80, Issue 3.
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) recently launched “America's Edge, Our Skills, Our Kids,” a nation- wide campaign to highlight the shortage of training opportunities for young people seeking careers in today's increasingly sophisticated manufacturing sector.
With strong backing from the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, the IAM is calling for an infusion of state and federal funding for apprentice programs, vocational training, community colleges and high-tech institutes that focus on twenty-first century manufacturing skills and materials.
“A national skills initiative should be part of a broader effort to revitalise America's critical manufacturing sector,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “I hear from employers every day that are looking for qualified machinists, engineers and technicians with the skills to handle today's high-end manufacturing technologies. There simply are not enough schools preparing people for the opportunities that are out there.”
According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, the USA will face a skilled worker shortage of eight million by 2010 and as high as 14 million by 2020. The US aerospace sector is particularly vulnerable, with retirements adding to the looming shortage.
“The chronic under investment in skills training is threatening America's last remaining edge in the global economy,” said Buffenbarger. “We need to wake up to this crisis before it becomes any worse.”
The AIM is among USA's largest industrial trade unions, representing nearly 720,000 active and retired members under more than 5,000 contracts in aerospace, transportation, shipbuilding and defense-related industries.