Will President Barack Obama’s promise from a little over a week ago to fund community college educations at 100% help cut the national skills gap in manufacturing? That is the question, or perhaps a better word would be “speculation” that spread through the manufacturing community last week as details of the “proposal” became known, dissected and analyzed.
It’s important to note that however a newsmaker it quickly became, currently this proposal is little more than a talking point in the president’s script at last week’s event. Critics immediately pointed to the issues the administration is facing in getting any legislation passed. Those issues include the Republican control of both houses of Congress, the appropriate financing to build manufacturing centers in many of the state community colleges where no programs currently exist, how to decide on a model to create the centers and standardizing the curriculum.
Enrollment in manufacturing-based education programs is up considerably across the country and wages are starting to creep up in some areas. Add this to the increasing demand for skilled labor and the continued drop in the need for unskilled labor and we have an economic growth gumbo stewing right in front of us.
Bridget Bergin, Associate Editor of Manufacturing.com took up the discussion the day the President made the announcement. Her comprehensive and nuanced article can be found here: Let the debate begin!