US manufacturers pledge to train 1.2M workers amid skilled labor shortage

Manufacturers are promising to upskill nearly 1.2 million workers, a major training commitment that comes as U.S. companies prepare to try to fill millions of open positions over the next decade amid a labor shortage.

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The National Association of Manufacturers, which counts Caterpillar, Merck, Salesforce and Boeing as members, is poised to make the announcement during an event at the White House on Thursday.

“Manufacturers proudly make this pledge to the American worker: we will continue to invest in our workforce and provide 1,186,000 Americans with the opportunity to receive training and development that will enhance their skills and prepare them for the next step on their career journey,” said CEO Jay Timmons.

By 2028, experts estimate that 2.4 million manufacturing jobs could remain vacant due to the labor shortage. But the sector is not alone in the problem.

Other industries are also exploring ways to upskill their employees instead of trying to compete for talent in one of the tightest job markets in decades.

Amazon, for example, recently said it would invest $700 million to train roughly a third of their entire workforce over the next six years on automation and other advanced technology. AT&T and Walmart are among the other U.S. firms that have announced similar initiatives.

Unlike the jobs of the past, the roles of the future will largely require backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM. But the need for workers remains a challenge as unemployment remains at record lows.

The announcement from the nation’s top manufacturer association is a boon for the White House, which has made training a next-generation workforce a key priority. In 2018, the administration formed the National Council for the American Worker and, in December, unveiled a five-year strategy to improve and expand access to STEM education.

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“We are thrilled to have NAM make this huge investment into our future and current manufacturers," said White House advisor Ivanka Trump. "By creating pathways for all Americans, regardless of age or background, to acquire the skills needed to secure and retain high-paying jobs, we can maintain our strong competitive edge and ensure inclusive growth and opportunity in our booming economy."