National Initiative Targets Manufacturing’s Gender Gap

03.22.2022
Manufacturing

The Manufacturing Institute—the workforce development and education partner of the National Association of Manufacturers—plans to add half a million women to industry payrolls over the next eight years.

The institute’s 35×30 initiative is targeting an increase in female representation in manufacturing from 29% to 35% by 2030.

“For nine months in a row now, manufacturers have had more than 800,000 open jobs,” MI president Carolyn Lee said, “and we can’t make meaningful progress toward filling those jobs without closing the gender gap.”

Workforce Pipeline

Lee said the program will work face-to-face with emerging leaders and students, collaborate with more than 1,000 female mentors and manufacturers, and broaden the workforce pipeline.

The campaign will continue the institute’s ongoing advocacy for women in manufacturing, Lee said.

The program comes as Connecticut and the country face a growing labor shortage crisis.

Connecticut’s labor force losses since February 2020 represent 14% of the national decline.

In CBIA’s 2021 Connecticut Manufacturing Report, nearly nine in 10 (88%) manufacturers reported difficulty finding and retaining workers, with 41% calling the labor shortage the main obstacle to growth.

And in NAM’s Q4 2021 Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey, 83% of manufacturers called attracting and retaining a quality workforce a primary business challenge, with 77% saying addressing the workforce shortage was a top strategy to reduce supply chain disruptions.

Labor Shortage

Connecticut’s labor shortage crisis is particularly dire, with 117,000 job openings and labor force losses that represent 14% of the national decline since February 2020.

The state’s manufacturing sector has recovered 67% of jobs lost to pandemic restrictions and shutdowns in March and April of 2020.

Lee says bringing just 10% more women into the manufacturing workforce will close the skills gap by 50%.

Lee says by bringing just 10% more women into the workforce, manufacturers can close the skills gap by 50%.

“The 35×30 campaign is an unprecedented plan to strengthen our workforce and build the talent pipeline, and we are thrilled to see the industry unite and recognize the power of women in the workforce,” she said.

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