Training and tax reform: 2 keys to manufacturing revival

Training and tax reform: 2 keys to manufacturing revival
© Getty Images

American manufacturing is standing at a crossroads. We face an historic opportunity to lift American workers up, grow paychecks and create jobs. We have the chance to boost manufacturing and strengthen this important backbone of our economy. In fact, every dollar invested in U.S. manufacturing generates $1.81 in economic activity.

The manufacturing sector supports 18 million American jobs. Many more are being created, but we expect as many as 2 million of those manufacturing jobs will go unfilled over the next decade because not enough Americans are equipped with in-demand skills.


We must make a commitment to ensuring we have a ready workforce. Education and training must keep pace with our modern economy, graduating students and preparing job changers to take on manufacturing careers.


From material scientists, to chemists, electronics engineers and robotics technicians, manufacturing offers rewarding opportunities to individuals with nearly any talent or interest, if only they know — and can acquire — the skills.

Manufacturers will play our part in bringing the workforce along on our innovation journey. We know this is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do.

Implementing extensive training to upskill employees for advanced manufacturing roles not only helps workers get ahead, but it can also save companies on operating and maintenance costs at the same time.

Manufacturers, business leaders and lawmakers must address these issues head-on. To restore opportunity to places where it’s in short supply, America should redouble its efforts to bring modern manufacturing and its benefits to the communities that need us most.

Another critical area where lawmakers can help U.S. manufacturers is in reforming the country’s outdated tax system. Manufacturers like PPG are looking for reform in a number of areas to create a tax system that aids and encourages U.S. competitiveness. Our current system is outdated and hurts everyone from large to small manufacturers.

It begins by simplifying the tax code. This creates a more equitable, balanced system and establishes a level playing field that fosters a fair and competitive environment for business.

Money can stay where it’s needed most — to empower manufacturers and their workers to invest in their communities, support their families, grow the economy, create more jobs and make manufacturing in the United States more competitive globally.

Second, our corporate tax system needs to spur investment, job creation and economic growth. This begins with a lower corporate tax rate. The U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate among developed countries.

In recent years, nearly 60 countries have cut their corporate taxes to encourage economic growth. By standing still, the U.S. has fallen behind. Reducing the corporate tax rate would make the U.S. tax system more competitive.

Lastly, our current international tax system can do more to promote global competitiveness. Currently, U.S. businesses are expected to pay the same amount of tax on income that they earn abroad, when repatriated, as they would if they earned that income in the U.S.

These current tax laws make it more difficult for U.S. companies to compete in the global marketplace. If U.S. companies cannot compete abroad, where 95 percent of the world's consumers are located, the U.S. economy suffers from the loss of both foreign markets and domestic jobs that support foreign operations.

We need to be consistent with other developed countries and adopt a territorial system that taxes businesses on income earned within a country’s borders. This is how we will make American manufacturing stronger than ever. 

Bryan N. Iams is vice president of corporate and government affairs for Pittsburgh-based paint and coatings manufacturer, PPG.