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  Services and Initiatives


Download Workforce Brochure

What is Workforce?

The manufacturing sector is a vital employer in the U.S., representing 11 million jobs, including 63% of the nation’s scientists and engineers. Furthermore, manufacturing jobs expand the middle class: they pay premium wages and are more likely to include benefits than non-manufacturing jobs (9% more in wages and benefits than other sectors), providing greater opportunity for those who would otherwise earn the lowest wages1.  Manufacturing also has the largest multiplier effect than any other major economic activity; each manufacturing job creates roughly 3 additional jobs in other sectors.


Did you know?

  • Manufacturing supports more than 17.4 million U.S. Jobs
  • $77,000 is the average salary for manufacturing workers

For more details check out "Why Manufacturing Matters."

To be innovative global competitors, U.S. manufacturers require an adaptable workforce with broad skills. Today’s manufacturing employees need soft skills as well as technical skills, including emotional intelligence, communication skills, strength in cognition and analysis, business acumen, and creative problem-solving skills. Supervisors are leaders, not just technicians, and are required to be mentors, not simply bosses. Front-line workers are valued for their ideas, not just their output. Manufacturers with an efficient and effective workforce have reduced turnover, improved customer service, created more new product ideation and patents, shortened cycle times in problem-solving, and decreased liability costs.


According to U.S. manufacturing executives, “a skilled educated workforce is the single most critical element of innovation success and the hardest to acquire.” In part, this is because America’s youth have misperceptions about manufacturing, thinking that it is “dirty and dangerous”, when, in fact, today’s manufacturing jobs are high tech and driven by rapidly advancing technologies and equipment.

What is MEP Doing?

NIST MEP is committed to supporting the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Strategic Objective "to accelerate the development of industry-led skills strategies that result in a productive workforce for employers and high-quality jobs for workers". MEP helps manufacturers address their challenges at multiple levels, through better education and training of modern production workers, promoting organizational policies that reflect progressive workforce and business practices, and assisting in cost reduction and sales growth to avert layoffs.

Leveraging resources at the federal, state, and local levels, MEP and its partners offer a wide range of tools, services, training, and opportunities to help manufacturers approach their workforce issues strategically and to help improve the public’s image of plant work. MEP’s workforce efforts include:

Workforce Development
Workforce Development
MEP collaborates with training and education partnerships at the regional, state, and federal levels to develop the highly-skilled manufacturing workforce needed for global competitiveness. Learn More
Nationally Driven Efforts
Nationally-Driven Efforts
MEP supports numerous national efforts that foster collaboration across programs and agencies to address manufacturer workforce needs. Learn More

Research and Reports

MEP publishes and compiles a variety of informative materials covering a broad array of workforce development topics. Our publications and reports seek to capture promising practices in the workforce field with topics such as how to attract, develop, and retain current and future talent, plus analysis of the skills gap in manufacturing including the need for greater focus on science and technology education. View Workforce Reports

Contact us

For more information about these initiatives, please contact your local MEP center or NIST MEP Mark Troppe

1 Brookings: Why Does Manufacturing Matter? Which Manufacturing Matters? A Policy Framework; Susan Helper, Timothy Krueger, and Howard Wial, Feb 2012