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It’s no secret. Over the last couple of decades the core of America’s economy has been sliced up and packaged out to the far-off corners of the globe. Of course, I’m talking about manufacturing jobs, which have been outsourced to India, China and other low-cost producers around the globe.

But while the last few years have been a struggle for American manufacturers, the tide is starting to turn. The shale gas revolution has helped reduce the cost of energy in the United States. And high-tech automated manufacturing solutions are starting to become more common in American factories and workshops. The result is an increasingly competitive manufacturing base that might tip the tides of trade back in favor of the old USA. But there’s still one big problem.

There’s only one problem: The manufacturing skills gap is keeping people from getting the manufacturing jobs they so desire. Put simply: People applying for manufacturing jobs don’t have the skills required. In fact, according to one survey the manufacturing skills gap is negatively affecting 52% of businesses. The National Association of Manufacturers estimates there are approximately 600,000 vacant manufacturing jobs nationwide, because workers simply don’t have the skills.

But on the flip side, those highly skilled manufacturers who do qualify for these new jobs are starting to greatly improve productivity and output of the American workforce. The reality is that this creates a positive ripple effect across the company, improving efficiency and the corporate bottom line. So can you afford to manufacture yourself a job like this?

For now, the challenge seems to be finding and educating workers to thrive in the new high-tech manufacturing environment. To be sure, education (whether in class or through apprenticeship and experience) is a good start and can help manufacturing job applicants stand out above the rest of the field. So if you’re looking for a manufacturing job, this is definitely an area that you’re going to want to focus on.

More specifically, technology is playing an increasing role on shop floors. So workers who are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to high tech manufacturing machinery are well-positioned to keep thriving in the years to come. So you’re encouraged to check out schools and machine shops near you. Given the resurgent demand for “made in America” goods, you might just be able to manufacture yourself a job too!

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