Report Recommends New Approach to U.S. Manufacturing’s Youth Outreach and Training

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014


With over 600,000 positions currently vacant and over half of their workforce just a few years from retirement, U.S. manufacturing firms face a serious lack of young, skilled workers. Immediate changes in career education and training are needed to ensure the industry can meet its future hiring needs.

Hope Street Group, a nonprofit organization focused on U.S. economic opportunity, released a report today that highlights student, educator and employer perspectives into this issue, along with strategies for manufacturing employers to collaborate with educators on youth outreach and training.

The report, Missing Makers: How to Rebuild America’s Manufacturing Workforce, found that American youth are getting fewer opportunities to experience technical trades directly. This problem is exacerbated by systemic challenges that prevent educators and employers from creating opportunities to expose young people to manufacturing careers.

The report’s key takeaways include the following:

  1. Change the messaging of manufacturing programs and partnerships with schools; companies should actively emphasize to parents and educators that technical training can enhance, rather than limit, career opportunities.
  2. Young people are getting fewer opportunities to experience technical trades directly. Companies can provide opportunities, both in-person and virtual, for teachers and counselors to educate themselves on manufacturing career pathways. Companies should also consider creating a set of resources for teachers and guidance counselors, giving them the ability to educate thousands of students in turn.
  3. With the right structure and players involved, manufacturing firms can collaborate with each other and with local educators, overcoming common financial and coordination barriers to youth outreach.

One prominent observation from the report’s findings was that youth frequently develop misconceptions about manufacturing early on because they have little direct exposure to manufacturing in their daily lives. They are often unaware, uninterested or unprepared for jobs available in their regions and lack comprehensive knowledge of the rapid changes the U.S. manufacturing sector has undergone in recent years.

Those aiming to assist students in the career exploration process also expressed concern over significant time and resource barriers. Teachers generally felt they lacked the time and guidance to cover career education in the classroom. Manufacturing employers cited financial difficulties and a lack of coordination with other local employers and educators as major obstacles to success. Only 29% of business leaders currently report any meaningful collaboration with higher education institutions, according to a poll conducted by Gallup and Lumina Foundation.

“The problem is indicative of a growing disconnect between employer needs and educational training focus, and solving it will require finding new ways to encourage alignment,” said Hope Street Group President and CEO Martin Scaglione, who stressed that lessons learned in the report are applicable to a broad array of industries now struggling to fill job vacancies.

Hope Street Group suggests that manufacturing employers take an active role in addressing this knowledge gap by playing a larger role in exposing students to manufacturing and other skilled careers through encouraging manufacturing education in the classroom, providing direct contact with technical trades and creating online educational resources.

Funded by Alcoa Foundation, the philanthropic arm of a global leader in lightweight metals technology, engineering and manufacturing, the report also includes recommendations for fostering collaboration between local manufacturers and educators in their respective regions, helping to overcome financial and coordination barriers that have hindered effective outreach. The report is intended to further inform and empower the numerous stakeholders involved in addressing this issue, many of whom are already working on innovative efforts to improve education to employment pathways in and beyond manufacturing.

“Manufacturing jobs of the future will require all workers to continually upgrade and diversify their skills. We must move beyond fragmented training solutions and take a broader, more holistic view of what individuals need to achieve self-sufficiency in an increasingly complex working world,” said Esra Ozer, President of Alcoa Foundation.

The research work conducted for this report was a component of Hope Street Group’s Jobs & Workforce program, which seeks to foster and amplify a seamless learning and work continuum in the U.S. Alcoa Foundation provided funding for the project and report.

About Hope Street Group

Hope Street Group is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunity and prosperity for all Americans.

For more information, visit and follow @HopeStreetGroup on Twitter.

About Alcoa Foundation

Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S., with assets of approximately $470 million. Founded 62 years ago, Alcoa Foundation has invested more than $590 million. In 2013, Alcoa Foundation contributed more than $22 million to nonprofit organizations throughout the world, building innovative partnerships to improve the environment and educate tomorrow’s leaders for careers in manufacturing and engineering. The work of Alcoa Foundation is further enhanced by Alcoa’s thousands of employee volunteers who share their talents and time to make a difference in the communities where Alcoa operates. Through the Company’s signature Month of Service program, in 2013, a record 62 percent of Alcoa employees took part in nearly 1,300 events across 24 countries, benefiting more than 505,000 people and 1,900 nonprofit organizations.

For more information, visit and follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter. 

Missing Makers Press Release

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