This has mixed implications for those seeking manufacturing jobs in the United States. While the United States is the largest market for many types of goods, emerging economies with rapidly growing middle classes are catching up. One example of a large, multinational firm that recently decided to add to its manufacturing capacity in the United States is German carmaker BMW. In a bid to remain the leading luxury carmaker in the United States, BMW has recently invested $250 million to develop its headquarters in New Jersey and create two regional distribution centers, according to the Accenture report. On the other hand, Ferreira points out other manufacturers are considering moving to Latin America, which is geographically close to the U.S. market but also near expanding markets in South America.
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As for Ferreira's outlook for the future of U.S. manufacturing jobs, he says "It's mixed, but with a positive expectation. ... Making the changes to a supply chain doesn't happen overnight. If that has to be modified, it doesn't happen with the flip of a switch."
However, the biggest issue for the manufacturing industry in the United States may not be a lack of jobs, but a gap between what skills manufacturing companies demand and the experience of the American workforce. A recent survey on talent in the manufacturing industry sponsored by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that 67 percent of more than 1,100 manufacturers reported a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers. Of those surveyed, 56 percent said they anticipated the shortage would grow worse over the next three to five years. Overall, the study found that about 5 percent of current jobs, or up to 600,000 jobs, remain unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates—a frustrating number considering the country's 14 million unemployed. "We just don't have the skilled workforce that allows us to expand and compete," says Jennifer McNelly, senior vice president at The Manufacturing Institute.
It's partially a public perception problem. Eighty-six percent of respondents in a separate survey indicate that America's manufacturing base is "important" or "very important" to our standard of living. But at the same time, manufacturing ranked second to last among seven key industries that Americans wanted to work in. "Everybody agrees hands-down that they want manufacturing jobs in their community, just not necessarily for them or their children," McNelly says. Education and retraining will play a huge role in the fate of the industry going forward, she says.