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A need to build and expand the nation’s innovation-based manufacturing workforce capability and capacity has been clearly established through national Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce analyses, including the 2018 Deloitte Skills Gap and Future Workforce in Manufacturing Study, which was updated in 2021 in the report titled “Creating Pathways for Tomorrow’s Workforce Today”. While the US made progress in 2022 in filling open manufacturing jobs, 759,000 remain unfilled. This analysis estimates that the nation will see 2.1 million manufacturing positions go unfilled by 2030 at a cost of $1 trillion unless the U.S. steps up to this pivotal supply-side challenge.

This situation is partially because only 20% of graduating high school seniors are ready for the rigors of STEM occupations, leaving manufacturers and other advanced technology companies forgoing investment in advanced manufacturing tools and/or offshoring manufacturing jobs.  The United States is expected to lose $1 trillion in economic output due to the skills gap in 2030 alone.

Focusing solely on education at the high school, vocational, and college/university levels to rebuild this critical workforce is not enough to sufficiently address the 2.1 million unfilled manufacturing positions, especially given that the number of students graduating high school is projected to shrink beginning in 2025.  This is compounded by the number of graduating seniors that failed basic math competency – 40% – which is a 2% increase from 2015.

An additional level of complexity to addressing this skills gap is the speed at which technology evolves, quickly rendering technical skills obsolete. STEM workers focused on advanced technologies and manufacturing practices must be able to upskill quickly to keep pace with technological change.

Project Duration         

There are six distinct objectives associated with this Special Call. The duration of each objective is unique. The specific period of performance for each objective can be found in the full Request for Proposals. Proposers should use a notional start date of September 1, 2023, for budgeting purposes.

Proposals: It is imperative that proposals define tasks and deliverables that are tangible, measurable, and demonstrable. The specifications of each task and deliverable must be clearly defined. The project should detail tasks, deliverables, and the project schedule, and should include quarterly and final reports, and the Cost Proposal should be created using the provided template. Ensure all instructional design service costs, travel, and other direct costs are included in the Cost Proposal.

Submission: The proposer shall submit one (1) electronic copy of its Detailed Research Plan (DRP) with Cost Proposal to


Important Dates

Questions may be addressed to Taylor McLeod at