DEARBORN, MI, August 25-In a remarkable counter to conventional wisdom, more leading manufacturing executives today believe the lack of skilled labor and management skills in the work force-not current oil prices or the weak U.S. dollar-most hurt the growth of America’s economy, according to a poll conducted by sponsors of the FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show including METALFORM.

Twenty-seven percent of the executives polled cited the lack of employee skills as the leading obstacle to growth. Ranked second was oil prices (cited by 20%), followed by tax policies (11%), weak U.S. dollar (10%), the financial commitment in Iraq (9%) and the credit crisis (7%).

The executives also were asked to name the two best ways to attract greater numbers of young people to manufacturing careers. In this case, the resounding response was not a surprise-58% said competitive wages. More parental and teacher encouragement ranked second at 27%, followed by offering more relevant science and math programs in high school and college (23%) and greater use of computer and high tech skills (22%).