Caterpillar CEO and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) board chair Doug Oberhelman recently announced the formation of a task force of business and manufacturing leaders that will tackle the workforce challenges hampering the continued growth of American manufacturing competitiveness in the global marketplace.

Two of the most pressing issues the task force will address are the mounting skills gap between the preparedness of workers and the capabilities manufacturers need, and the scarcity of graduates in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

"A strong manufacturing base is a critical foundation for strengthening the American economy, and to be successful, a strong manufacturing economy requires a highly skilled workforce," said Oberhelman. "It is an issue that will help to define our potential growth and shape manufacturing for decades to come. This multi-industry task force will supply the necessary policy solutions that should provide a road map to follow so that we can have the best workforce in the world."                      

The NAM Task Force on Competitiveness and the Workforce will be led by Chip Blankenship, president and CEO of GE Appliances. He will be joined by 15 NAM board members representing a diverse group of U.S. companies.

The task force will launch in January with a hearing-style discussion to identify common problems across industries and explore solutions. The group will work with public and private sector representatives through 2014 to develop concrete proposals regarding how the private sector and government at all levels can work more effectively together to ensure that the United States has a globally competitive workforce. The task force also will deliver a detailed advocacy plan so that NAM can work with governments to implement these proposals and develop the workforce that meets the needs of modern manufacturing.

For more information, visit www.nam.org.