Study Finds Gap In Manufacturing Between Policymakers and General Public


We’ve discussed the concept of a “maker” on the blog fairly frequently. Today, however, we’re turning the tide to a different type of maker: Policymakers.

Most Americans, and most policymakers for that matter, have somewhat similar ideals when it comes to the power of manufacturing: It can fuel our country’s prosperity, ensure national security, and provide an acceptable standard of living, says the Made In Ohio blogwriter Laima Rastikis.

To that, we’d add that manufacturing can change the trajectory of education, redefine the nature of skilled labor, and produce not just an acceptable standard of living, but a significantly higher quality of life. In a 2014 national survey sponsored by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, 90% of respondents rated manufacturing “important” or “very important” to maintaining a strong national economy. Manufacturing also ranked first among those asked about their first choice of industries in which to create 1,000 jobs within their community.

So although we know what manufacturing can be and how we can get there, only 37% of policymakers and business leaders are willing to recommend manufacturing careers to their children. This is a major roadblock. According to Rastikis, the study revealed that:

  • 75 percent believe manufacturing jobs are the first to be moved to other countries.
  • Only 49 percent of Americans believe the U.S. can now compete globally.
  • 83 percent believe the U.S. needs a more strategic approach to manufacturing base development.
  • 82 percent think the U.S. should invest more in the manufacturing industry.
  • 28 percent believe federal government leaders understand what is needed to grow and strengthen the U.S. economy.

These numbers fall in stark contrast to their American constituency, 78% of whom believe that the education system needs reform. 76% believe that the US should provide tax incentives to encourage manufacturing in the US. And 74% believe the US should ensure long-term, stable funding for programs that spur innovation and advanced manufacturing. 65% think the US should limit imports of foreign manufactured goods through higher tariffs or import quotas.

There’s no doubt that this is a complex issue, and that the private sector has just as large a role to play as the policymakers. However, suggestions for ways that policymakers can promote manufacturing careers include new trade agreements to reduce foreign barriers to U.S. goods, government training programs, and wage insurance. All of the above can help former factory workers find new careers, according to the Brookings Institution.

If you’re a Nebraska citizen, how can you help? Write a letter to your local policymaker about specific changes you’d like them to implement to help support manufacturing in Nebraska, and spread the word about just how wonderful manufacturing jobs are! Questions? Comments? Want to learn more? Leave a comment in the section below, any time!

photo credit: Festivities on the Lawn via photopin (license)