WASHINGTON — A majority of Americans believe there aren’t any available jobs in manufacturing, according to a poll released Monday, but the president of a global manufacturing company said there are plenty of jobs, but they required specialized skills.
Carlos Cardoso’s company, Kennametal, Inc., released a poll saying 57 percent of Americans describe the outlook for U.S. manufacturing as “gloomy.” Only 17 percent think its future is bright. Penn Schoen Berland, a public opinion research firm, conducted the online survey of 1,000 Americans in mid-November.
The survey also found that Americans think unemployment is higher in manufacturing compared with other industries.
“The U.S. manufacturing sector has been steadily growing, and right now 600,000 manufacturing jobs are available,” Cardoso said at a National Press Club news conference. “Most of these positions require specialized skills and education, and as manufacturers, we have a responsibility to educate people about these opportunities and build the manufacturing workforce of the future.”
Cardoso pointed to a study conducted six months ago for the Manufacturing Institute that found 67 percent of manufacturers reported a shortage of available qualified workers. He said lack of training of the unemployed in math and science prevents them from having these manufacturing jobs.
“Contrary to people’s belief, you find more computing technology on the shop floor than any other place you can go to,” Cardoso said. “I can’t think of many tasks that we have in any of our facilities don’t require computing technology. It is almost impossible to work without math and science skills.”
Because Americans do not think there are available manufacturing jobs, 52 percent of those polled said they were not likely to advise a teenager to consider a career in manufacturing.
The Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation predicts manufacturing production will grow faster than the overall economy in 2012 at a rate of 3.4 percent, adding 170,000 jobs.
To help create awareness about the manufacturing jobs available, Kennametal, a $2.4 billion company based in Latrobe, Pa., that makes parts and systems for a variety of companies, instituted its Young Engineers Program at Greater Latrobe High School. The program allows students to gain hands-on experience with Kennametal in fields ranging from engineering to marketing.
“Going into it, I had the generic view of engineers sit at a desk or they build bridges,” said Marisa Larkin, a senior in the program who attended the news conference. “I didn’t know what engineering was all about. They have so much more. They have business, they have manufacturing and all the different parts of it.”
Cardoso called on fellow manufacturers to work with schools and educate students so they can be prepared for the workforce.
“They need more guidance and more direction and more support to decide where to go, when to go and what types of curriculum to take,” Cardoso said. “I would encourage anyone to do something about it. Doing nothing is not an option.”