146: How Training Programs, Immigration Policy, and the Next Generation Can Strengthen the US Workforce

You just can’t find the people these days, right? 

Anyone in the manufacturing, engineering, or construction industries knows that the top challenge right now is finding talent. There’s a shortage of willing and able workers in the U.S. – and immigration policies make it difficult to bring in talent from overseas.  

In this episode of Manufacturing Happy Hour, we head to Washington D.C. for a special live panel discussion from the Celebration of Construction on the National Mall. 

Marsia Geldert-Murphey, ASCE President-Elect, Thayer Long, President of the Association for Print Technologies and Steve Hall, Executive VP of ACEC, explore the reasons behind the talent shortage, how public policy could help, and how organizations are trying to attract the next generation of workers.  


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. Countries like Germany, Belarus, UAE, and South Korea have around 30% STEM graduates, whereas the US has around 19%. Without enough people, immigration is one option to boost numbers in the manufacturing workforce.  
  2. We need to do more to build connections with college and even school-aged students to encourage them to consider manufacturing and engineering as a career path.  
  3. If you want to grow your applicant pool, you need to look at what drives young people toward a career path. A sense of purpose and a good work-life balance are key.  

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “When you look at countries like Germany, Belarus, South Korea, UAE, 30% of their graduates are STEM graduates. In the United States, it’s 19%. It’s a math problem. We just do not have enough people. So we have got to improve our immigration program.” – Marsia
  • “There’s a lot of drivers that motivate young people today, and I don’t think they always think about engineering as a way of accomplishing those goals. So [we need] messaging like that to young people through STEM programs.” – Steve
  • “If the government put a quarter of the amount of effort into promoting an apprenticeship and a career in the construction trade as they do by subsidizing and supporting college education, it’d have a tremendous impact to bring more people into our field.” – Thayer

Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode

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What We Discuss with Marsia, Thayer, and Steve

  • What employers can do to grow their applicant pool 
  • How firms are trying to attract talent 
  • Why you need to move people to the opportunities 
  • How public policy could help  
  • Why immigration rules need to be revisited  
  • What drives young people  
  • How organizations are reaching out to school and college-aged students  

Recommended Resources

Connect with Marsia, Thayer, and Steve

Marsia Geldert-Murphey | Thayer Long | Steve Hall