Commerce Issues Manufacturing Strategy

Manufacturing is a cornerstone of the American economy. The United States is the world’s largest producer of manufactured goods and leads the world in innovation. Simply put, manufacturing matters — to jobs, rising productivity, and higher standards of living. Manufacturers improve our quality of life.

To help identify the challenges facing our manufacturing sector, the Department of Commerce held many public roundtables over the past year. These discussions included representatives from small, medium, and large companies from a broad range of industries, including auto parts, aerospace, biotechnology, and semiconductors. Through this dialogue, they heard the challenges facing US manufacturers. The feedback from manufacturers fell within the following six categories:

1. Focusing On Manufacturing and Its Competitiveness
2. Generating Stronger Economic Growth Domestically and Internationally
3. Reducing Costs That Erode Competitiveness
4. Reinforcing America’s Technological Leadership
5. Ensuring A Highly Skilled and Educated Workforce
6. Insisting On A Level International Playing Field

Their report included recommendations for each of these six areas. For example, the recommendations for “Strengthening Education, Retraining, and Economic Diversification” are:

  • Establish a High School and Technical Education Partnership Initiative. Ensure that students are being taught the necessary skills to make successful transitions from high school to college, and from college to the workforce.
  • Analyze Specialized Training Needed to Succeed in the Manufacturing Environment of the Future. Examine whether the existing system of vocational-technical education is sufficient to meet the needs of the manufacturing sector and propose recommendations for improvement.
  • Establish Personal Re-employment Accounts. Help ensure that workers who lose their jobs can rapidly and successfully reenter the workforce.
  • Coordinate Economic Adjustment for Manufacturing Communities. Coordinate the efforts of federal agencies in addressing structural economic challenges faced by manufacturing-dependent communities in transition.
  • Transform Workforce Development Programs. Enable workers to develop skills necessary for employment in emerging and growing industries.

To see the full 88 page report, go to: <http://www.commerce.gov/DOC_MFG_Report_Complete.pdf>.