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PCB-Oct2017

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76 The PCB Magazine • October 2017 As I have written here before, the skills gap is a chronic problem in the American electron- ics manufacturing sector. In a recent survey of our U.S. member com- panies [1] , most said they have a hard time find- ing local talent to run their businesses. Respon- dents cited many essential skills that are in short supply, but the most common ones are soldering for production jobs, and engineers with industry experience, especially in process, test, and quality control. Making matters even more challenging, as new innovations emerge, new skills requirements emerge as well. According to the National Skills Coalition, 53% of U.S. jobs are "middle skill," meaning they require some form of post-secondary ed- ucation and training beyond high school, but not necessarily a four-year degree. Yet, only 43% of U.S. workers are trained at this level. Recognizing this challenge, IPC has for years been a leading provider of many education and training opportunities [2] that benefit the elec- tronics sector. Earlier this year, we introduced IPC EDGE, a new online learning management system to provide education to the electronics industry workforce. But our industry cannot overcome the skills gap all by ourselves. That's why we are constantly advocating for better public policies to address the skills gap. Most recently, we endorsed the Apprenticeship and Jobs Train- ing Act (S. 1352) [3] , a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Maria Cantwell (D-Washington). Apprenticeship programs are a proven model of workforce development, allowing workers to earn an income while they learn and com- panies to increase the skills of their workforce. According to the Urban Institute, more than 80% of U.S. companies that al- ready have registered ap- prenticeships say it is an effective strategy for help- ing them meet their de- mand for skilled labor, and 94% would recom- mend it as a strategy to other employers [4] . The Collins-Cantwell proposal would establish the first-ever federal in- centives for companies to establish such programs. Specifically, the bill would create a $5,000 tax cred- it for up to three years for Pursuing New Solutions to the Electronics Sectors' Skills Gap ONE WORLD, ONE INDUSTRY by John Mitchell IPC —ASSOCIATION CONNECTING ELECTRONICS INDUSTRIES

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