While manufacturing has made a comeback in the U.S., some fundamentals remain a problem. The most significant of these is related to labor. After years of corporate cutbacks due to layoffs and employee retirement, many companies are now facing a skilled labor shortage. ERP solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics NAV 2015 can greatly aid organizations in improving the amount of productivity from using a smaller worker pool. However, certain staff members will need to possess specialized skills that will be necessary to complete specific jobs. Now, there are reports coming in from different parts of the U.S. that indicate the labor shortage issue won't be remedied any time soon.

Minding the gap
The situation is becoming increasingly apparent in both southern and northern states with a tradition of manufacturing. The National Skills Coalition, an organization of manufacturing and educational interests that assesses the amount of skilled labor in American businesses, notes the existence of middle-skilled labor. This category represents jobs that require a high school diploma or GED, but not a college degree.

The bulk of manufacturing jobs today are considered middle-skilled. While they may lack an education in some fields of study, there is still a lot of technical training going on such as learning how to use specific machines and computers that are just as important.  ERP software such as Dynamics NAV is an essential tool used by middle-skilled workers.

However, as the National Skills Coalition noted in its studies, there is a middle-skilled labor gap present throughout the country. While demand for these jobs make up the majority of those available in the U.S. at 54 percent, only 44 percent of workers are qualified.  This means there is a 10 percent gulf that exists between the number of open positions and the people qualified to fill them. Meanwhile, there is an excess of especially low-skilled laborers without a high school diploma and skilled professionals who have at least a college degree. These findings are similar throughout the country.

Changing perceptions
The Associated Press reported that in the state of Kentucky, the biggest problem with middle-skilled labor is the perception that manufacturing, construction and other middle-skilled jobs have accross the population. Public education has made graduating college the expected level of achievement for students in the state and those who have the grades to attend are pushed to do so. If young adults don't have the grades for higher education, dropping out is seen as the only alternative. However, manufacturing is seen as an unpopular choice for those who enroll in college but don't finish, despite the incredible pay they can earn over the course of a career. In order to combat this situation, manufacturers should promote those who have received at least a high school education but  have yet to make a career choice just yet.

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