U.S. Must Beef up Workforce Skills or Risk Losing Competitiveness, NAM Says

Manufacturer association chief Engler calls for "accelerated innovation" at Washington summit

Manufacturer association chief Engler calls for "accelerated innovation" at Washington summit

Washington, DC — December 6, 2005 — The United States risks losing out in the global economic competition if it does not do more to raise the skill level of its workforce so that the country can continue its edge in research and development.

That was the message delivered by National Association of Manufacturers President John Engler today as he kicked off a National Summit on Competitiveness at the Commerce Department.

"It is vividly clear that America's economy must accelerate innovation and the development and utilization of technology if it is to compete successfully in the 21st century," Engler said in a speech at the conference.

More than 55 corporate CEOs, university presidents and scientists from across the country were participating in the day-long summit, during which they pressed cabinet secretaries and members of Congress for more research and development funding; a greater emphasis on science, math and engineering education; and immigration reform for highly educated, high-skill foreign nationals as means to keeping the U.S. economy globally competitive.

Referencing the "2005 Skills Gap Report" recently released by the NAM, the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Consulting, Engler said, "Increasingly, U.S. companies are unable to find the skills and talent they need while some developing nations now turn out more engineers than we do each year.

"China and India are racing to climb the technology ladder," he added. "We must recognize that we're in that race, too, and we have to run smarter if we are to maintain our high standard of living and our global leadership."

Engler told the summit audience of about 300 that America's failure to keep pace in research funding and workforce preparedness has been well documented in recent years with a series of reports on innovation and competitiveness. "But the purpose of today's summit is not to produce another report, it's to draw from those existing reports and focus on an action program."

Engler credited Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) for initiating the competitiveness summit with help from Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, (R-NY), chairman of the House Science Committee, and Vernon Ehlers, (R-MI), chairman of the House Environment, Technology and Standards Subcommittee.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and Deputy Commerce Secretary David Sampson met with summit participants to discuss policy prescriptions for future economic success.

A statement from summit participants and other related documents are posted at: www.usinnovation.org.

Additional Articles of Interest

— Leading companies are using supply chain principles to deploy employee talent. Read more in "Finding a Needle in a Haystack," an SDCExec.com exclusive.

— One chief procurement officer sees a looming talent shortage hitting the purchasing field. Read more in "An Interview with Patricia Moser: Selling Transformation," the Interview column in the June/July 2004 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— Impending Baby Boomer retirements, a widening skills gap driven by declining educational standards, and outdated and ineffective approaches to talent management are combining forces to produce a "perfect storm" that threatens the global business economy, according to new research from Deloitte. Read the SDCExec.com article here.