Filling the Manufacturing Skills Gap

The manufacturing industry is responsible for much of America’s incredible successes over the past 100+ years. The industrial revolutions spearheaded over the last century are responsible for innovation, prosperity, and increasing wealth across economic divides. However, the manufacturing industry is undergoing another significant change in advanced technology, thus experiencing growing pains. 

Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute launched a skills gap study in 2018 with surprising results. They estimate that between 2018 and 2028, nearly 2.4 million manufacturing job positions will be unfulfilled. The increasing labor shortage in manufacturing is partially due to nationwide economic factors, but some causes are felt most strongly in this currently transforming industry. 

Three key factors are creating the skills gap in manufacturing: 

  • First, shifting skillsets – Manufacturing jobs are becoming increasingly dependent on AI and robotics technologies, which means jobs are becoming increasingly tech-focused compared to what they were in the past. 
  • The waning reputation of manufacturing – Most workers view manufacturing as “factory work,” which has a bad reputation in the modern age. Many workers are unaware of the opportunities available in the manufacturing industry for various talents. 
  • Declining workforce numbers – As the baby boomer generation begins to retire, fewer workers are entering manufacturing to replace their numbers. This is happening in various industries but felt harder in specific trades and initiatives such as manufacturing. 

Ways Manufacturers Can Close The Skills Gap

Below are three ways we believe manufacturers can expand their talent pool and fill positions with unlikely candidates: 

  • Improve apprenticeship programs – For many young professionals, post-secondary education can be challenging to afford. However, as apprenticeship programs continue to increase in popularity, consider offering this type of training at your facility to find untapped talent pools and shape talent to your specific needs. 
  • Promote and encourage lateral career moves within your companyIn this article, we briefly discussed the idea of career lattices becoming more popular in various industries. If you are having trouble finding outside talent for certain positions, consider laterally moving or promoting from within to creatively solve hiring issues and keep your team strong. 
  • Reach out to community educators and workforce development programs – The best places to find young talent are the institutions that develop self-starters in the form of post-secondary education. These programs always welcome new partnerships with employers in the local community and can help match you to the best and brightest in your area. Here is a preview of what Eckerd Connects offers.

While advanced technologies such as AI and robotics are making manufacturing more efficient, they are also changing the nature of manufacturing jobs, and the types of skills employers are looking for. To close this skills gap, manufacturers must be proactive and recruit top talent starting at the post-secondary educational level. Programs like our youth workforce development program do an excellent job of connecting employers to workers with the skillsets necessary to succeed.