Closing the Skills Gap

Manufacturing has come face-to-face with a skills gap as older workers retire and younger workers are few. There will be an estimated 3.5 million manufacturing jobs left vacant over the next 10 years, and as many as 2 million of those jobs could go permanently unfilled as retiring workers take decades of experience with them.

How can we solve this problem and close the skills gap? Read on to find out.


One of the reasons behind America’s skills gap is the lack of funding for proper training programs. This issue has prevented students across the country from accessing the education they need to succeed in careers like manufacturing. Even though we desperately need young people to go into these fields, they don’t – and because there isn’t enough funding for trade skill programs from middle school through university, many students aren’t gravitating toward those lines of work.

The action step here is simple: students need to understand that trade skills are a viable alternative to the traditional undergraduate, graduate, office job career path. They may even find that skilled trades are more fulfilling work and offer more opportunities. But they’re not likely to understand these things unless trade education improves.


The second half of this equation is the stigma many people have regarding skilled trades. Often, people who work in utilities, manufacturing, or the like are seen as “unsuccessful” – but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Not only do skilled trades offer a large amount of job security, they also provide opportunities for career advancement. Many people who work in fields like manufacturing report high levels of satisfaction in their work, citing good pay, good benefits, and a feeling of fulfillment. The issue, though, is that careers like medicine and law are still seen as more successful – and until that changes, the skills gap will likely remain a problem for our country.


Here at O’Neal, we know firsthand the positive effect a thriving manufacturing industry can have on a city. We believe wholeheartedly in what we do, and we’re looking for that next generation to take O’Neal another hundred years into the future. Interested in learning more about who we are and what we do? Find out more about us today.