Skip to main content

Bridging the Manufacturing Skills Gap in Rural America

The Skills Problem in America’s Industrial Heartland: Causal Factors and Local Strategies
Presented by:Carolyn Hatch, Purdue Center for Regional Development

Structural changes in the nature of competition in recent decades have placed a premium on human capital as the linchpin of globally competitive manufacturing operations. Yet a major challenge for US manufacturers, particularly the small to mid-sized companies (SMEs) in the more traditional and labor-intensive industries located in rural areas, is a shortage of sufficiently skilled, innovative and flexible workers and problem solvers. This webinar provides an overview of the key causal factors driving manufacturing skills gaps throughout Rural America and emphasizes structural factors that engender a lack of workplace learning in the US industrial context. It then draws on case studies across the North Central region to discuss innovative local solutions, focusing on the role that community colleges, Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEPs), and employers can play in enhancing workforce development throughout America’s manufacturing heartland.

Who Is Attending

Add Comment

Comments (0)


About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Agriculture Extension grant no. 2020-41595-30123 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and membership funding. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the content are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

Link copied to your clipboard.