By Devin Steele
As noted in Part 1 of our two-part series, the skilled labor shortage has been one of the major issues affecting the U.S. sewn products industry and the larger manufacturing sector for years. Throw in the fact the U.S. is experiencing near-historic low unemployment during an extended period of economic expansion, and the problem is only exacerbated.
Plus, U.S. manufacturers and their suppliers are experiencing some of the highest levels of growth we’ve seen in decades, yet the industry seems unable to keep up with the resulting rebound in job growth. This poses major challenges for manufacturers and may threaten the vitality of the industry and our economy long term. This issue is extremely important to our sector as the industry seeks to reshore back to the USA to take advantage of new technologies and meet the demands of today’s ever-changing consumer. SEAMS’ goal is to help “Build a Supply Chain Bridge” for a more viable, faster, more efficient sewn products, textile and apparel manufacturing. SEAMS sent questionnaires to several members and non-members to see how they are responding to the challenge of finding – and keeping – skilled employees. Part of SEAMS’ mission is knowledge and idea exchange, so we see sharing their feedback as beneficial to members who may be struggling with some of these same issues.
Here, in Part 2 in our series on this issue, are highlights of participating companies and education and training centers.