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US, UK manufacturers face digital skills shortage

Posted on June 10, 2014
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The slow start to the West’s manufacturing revival is under threat from a shortage of skilled workers, experts told CNBC.

“The opportunity for an economic renaissance is there—but there is a lot of work to do in intriguing the workforce in,” said Jon Riley, the vice-president of digital manufacturing for the U.S.’s National Center for Manufacturing Sciences.

“The challenge is absolutely monumental.”

The U.S. and the U.K. have become increasingly competitive on the world manufacturing stage in the last decade as companies ramp up production as the world recovers from the global financial crisis.

According to a report published jointly by Accenture and the Manufacturing Institute this month, half of U.S. companies plan to increase U.S.-based production by at least five percent in the next five years.

And this time around, the manufacturing is high-tech and high-skill.

However, their plans for expansion may be scuppered by a dearth of workers with the skills needed for this new high-tech world. More than one third of surveyed companies saying they faced a “severe” shortage of qualified applicants, and 60 percent finding it difficult to hire skilled staff.

Accenture found that as a result of increased production costs stemming from skills shortages, companies risked a cut to annual earnings of 11 percent, or $4.6 million on average.

“The skills shortage facing U.S. manufacturers is apparent from this report, and its severity can be measured in dollars,” said Matt Reilly, senior managing director of Accenture Strategy, North America, in the report.

“U.S. manufacturers’ plans to increase production and grow manufacturing roles over the next five years are positive indicators, but are likely to exacerbate the problem.”

Katy Barnato

28 May 2014

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101706914

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