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Four out of five manufacturers nationwide are optimistic about the U.S. economy but three out of five say a lack of qualified workers is holding back business growth. That’s according to the 2017 Manufacturing Report released yesterday by the professional services firm Sikich LLP.

“The use of advanced technologies across manufacturing operations requires workers with a higher level of training and skills,” said Jerry Murphy, partner-in-charge of Sikich’s manufacturing and distribution practice. “Our report found that while manufacturers recognize the gaps in workforce development, many simply are not doing enough to train and equip workers to thrive in today’s increasingly complex manufacturing operations.”

The report also found:

  • Manufacturers view organic growth in existing domestic markets and new product or service development as the top opportunities for growth over the next 12-18 months.
  • 69 percent expect to increase employment in the next 12 months.
  • Despite cybersecurity threats, nearly 70 percent of respondents said they do not conduct annual staff training.
  • 78 percent of respondents said they invest 5 percent of sales or less in research and development.

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