Shortage of Critical Skills

November 28, 1956

Report Outline
Contribution of Skills to National Progress
Reasons for Shortage of Skilled Workers
Ways to Enlarge Reservoir of Skills

Contribution of Skills to National Progress

Supporting Skils for Workers at the Top

A severe shortage of skilled craftsmen and technicians is plaguing industry, research laboratories, and the armed services—even the ordinary citizen who needs a competent repair job on his automobile or TV set. The extreme complexity of many devices now used in the factory, in the home, and at bases where men are trained for modern warfare has generated a constantly rising demand for skilled workers. The fact that this demand is not being met from accustomed sources has been called “a number one national problem” by Secretary of Labor James P. Mitchell. And he predicts that “as technology advances, this problem will grow worse.”

The wide publicity given to the country's need for more engineers, physicists, and other scientists has tended to obscure the no less pressing need for greater numbers of highly trained workmen. Present-day technology requires the combined efforts of teams of professional and sub-professional specialists, and the skilled workers is—in Mitchell's phrase—“the anchor man on the team.”

The contributions of scientists and engineers to industrial progress, modern living, and national security depend in large measure upon the supporting efforts of a middle group which has been described as standing between “the thinker at the top and the manual worker at the bottom.” This in-between body of trained men and women, if large enough, could greatly ease the scientist-engineer shortage by taking over routine tasks on which the professionals now must spend much of their time.

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Nov. 28, 1956  Shortage of Critical Skills
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Data and Statistics