Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy
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Handbook of Manufacturing Industries in the World Economy

Edited by John R. Bryson, Jennifer Clark and Vida Vanchan

This interdisciplinary volume provides a critical and multi-disciplinary review of current manufacturing processes, practices, and policies, and broadens our understanding of production and innovation in the world economy. Chapters highlight how firms and industries modify existing processes to produce for established and emerging markets through dynamic and design-driven strategies. This approach allows readers to view transformations in production systems and processes across sectors, technologies and industries. Contributors include scholars ranging from engineering to policy to economic geography. The evidence demonstrates that manufacturing continues to matter in the world economy.
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Chapter 30: From skill mismatch to reinterpretation: challenges and solutions for manufacturing worker retention and recruitment

Nichola J. Lowe


The ultimate resource of an industrial economy is its people. (Dertouzos et al., Made in America, 1989: 21) Skill builds by moving irregularly, and sometimes by taking detours. (Sennett, The Craftsman, 2008: 238) Manufacturing jobs are coveted, and for good reason. On average they provide significantly better wages and benefits compared with most service sector jobs that share a similar labor pool. Yet changes to educational requirements for new and incumbent workers potentially threaten job access for moderately educated workers that have long enjoyed a middle class existence as result of their employment in manufacturing. This emergent labor market challenge motivates a more critical examination of the way that skill, and more specifically changing perceptions of skill, might affect manufacturing worker recruitment, retention and mobility. While this shifting educational requirement is especially pronounced in the United States, related pressures have emerged in labor markets in Europe and Asia, and thus indicate an opportunity for international comparison and policy reflection.

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