DEARBORN, MI-More 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 most respondents, 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%.