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New Report Proposes Solution To Address Employment Challenges In Manufacturing

Posted On: May 30, 2016


The manufacturing sector is a key facet of the U.S. economy, accounting for 8.8% of the country’s total employment and generating 12.5% of the total gross domestic product¹. It is also a strong source of well-paying jobs, with non-college-educated workers making an average of 10.9% more than comparable workers in the rest of the economy1. Yet, the U.S. labor market is changing. The sector is faced with the constant challenge of the upgrading and diversification of necessary skills. Over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will likely be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap.

The second in the Makers Series by Alcoa Foundation and Hope Street GroupMaking Makers: Rebuilding the Manufacturing Workforce Through Competencies and Credentials addresses the root cause of the issues within the manufacturing workforce. Focused on the demand side, Making Makersworks to uncover how leading manufacturers are already coping with and even overcoming hiring and training obstacles to secure future talent.

“We’re pleased to continue our partnership with Alcoa Foundation on this critical work,” Martin Scaglione, CEO of Hope Street Group, expressed. “Their leadership in the manufacturing sector exemplifies the type of employer-led efforts that are necessary to re-engineer the jobs marketplace. Shifting away from hiring and training based on job titles towards hiring and training based on competencies is key to closing the hiring and skills gap in manufacturing and we applaud Alcoa for being a leader in this space.”

The report identifies current stumbling blocks in manufacturing that lead to the often referenced “skills gap”: the unknown requirements for viable manufacturing jobs, the need for improved signals from employers, the inability of preparation to keep pace with changing requirements and lack of transparency about what it takes for success. Making Makers is directly informed by Hope Street Group’s national Sync Our Signals (SOS) initiative, working to re-engineer America’s job market.

Most importantly, the report frames solutions to remove these barriers through integrated competency and credentialing models, describes the unique needs of various manufacturers and identifies best practices that are in use among manufacturers. It also provides a comprehensive snapshot of competency and credentialing systems being launched across the country by key employer and educator influencers to  the frequently faced education, training and recruitment challenges.

Making Makers goes on to offer key recommendations for action in the year ahead to advance the findings and efficiently rebuild the manufacturing workforce, and proposes an innovative model for a fully integrated manufacturing ecosystem.

“We are proud to support this new research from Hope Street Group on such a major challenge being faced by manufacturing employers. Making Makers lays out out the best practices employers are utilizing to prepare individuals to fill the numerous middle skill jobs currently available in the sector, as well as creating a vision for what a more efficient jobs system could look like,” said Ryan Kish, Program Manager, Alcoa Foundation.

In the report’s conclusion, Hope Street Group proposes launching a series of employer-driven pilots transparency across the country to implement the ideal model and test new competency validation practices to confirm the impact is significant within manufacturing as it has been in other sectors that have adopted similar practices.

To learn more about Making Makers and the Sync Our Signals initiative, please visit http://hopestreetgroup.org/impact/jobs/sync-our-signals/making–makers/.

About Hope Street Group

Hope Street Group is a national organization that works to ensure every American will have access to tools and options leading to economic opportunity and prosperity.


About Alcoa Foundation

Alcoa Foundation builds innovative partnerships and engages its people to improve the environment, educate tomorrow’s leaders and enhance the communities where Alcoa operates around the world. Through collaboration and creativity, Alcoa Foundation inspires action and achieves impact.



1The Manufacturing Footprint and the Importance of U.S. Manufacturing Jobs, Economic Policy Institute.

2Top 20 Facts About Manufacturing, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM).