Guys, we have a skilled workforce shortage.
Back in 2011, Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute compiled a report titled, “Boiling Point? The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing,” in which is was estimated that up to 600,000 high-skilled manufacturing jobs were unfilled due to a shortage of able workers. Of those surveyed, 82% of American manufacturers reported a “moderate or severe” shortage of those workers.
Flash forward to 2015 and the skills gap is just getting worse. In their most recent publication, Deliotte and the Manufacturing Institute estimate that 2 million manufacturing jobs will go unfilled (over the next ten years) due to a lack of skilled workers available. Two million jobs.
What’s Causing the Skills Gap?
It’s impossible to pinpoint the direct cause of the skilled workforce shortage that we are seeing throughout the country. However, two of the most prominent causes are:
1. ) Improving economic conditions – When the “Great Recession” happened, the manufacturing industry was one of the hardest hit. From December 2007 to June 2009–18 months to be exact–manufacturing job opportunities decreased by 15 percent. To put an actual number to that, 2 million jobs were lost.
As economic conditions improve in the United States, though, the manufacturing sector is getting back on track. Output in this industry has grown nearly 40 percent since the recession ended and employment opportunities continue to expand as well.
2.) No interest in the industry – From here on out, the number of baby boomers who retire is only going to grow–and at an accelerating pace. The Manufacturing Institute predicts that 2.7 million jobs will need to be filled over the next ten years due to retiring baby boomers. While this is great for the young people entering the workforce, there’s one thing missing: interest. This isn’t entirely news, though; in 2009, a poll found that over half of all U.S. teens had no interest in pursuing manufacturing as a career opportunity. Unfortunately, that number has since grown.
How the U.S. Will Overcome the Skilled Manufacturing Workforce Shortage
Unfortunately, the jobs that are the hardest to fill are typically also the ones that have the biggest impact on the overall performance of the company. There are some methods that manufacturers can use to improve the workforce gap, though.
* Updating your recruitment methods – It’s no secret that the manufacturing industry is one of the most resistant to change–not that it’s a bad thing! However, many companies still rely on traditional recruiting methods such as word-of-mouth to find new employees. The incoming workforce is searching online for job opportunities, so by not having a solid online presence, you are missing out on many potential candidates.
* Evaluating current employees – If you just can’t seem to find any skilled candidates to fill the job openings you have, you might consider looking within. Your current employees should know your company very well. If there are able workers that are willing to improve their education through training (or even going back to school), you could overcome your workforce shortage from within.
* Getting young people excited – This won’t necessarily provide a quick fix for the skilled workforce shortage we have, but you also have to be looking toward the future so the problem doesn’t get any worse. The fact of the matter is that young people need to know about the manufacturing industry and everything it has to offer. Bringing in grade school students for tours is one way to do that, as well as attending high school job fairs.
Although it is predicted that the skilled workforce shortage is only going to get worse over the next decade, there are initiatives we can start now to minimize the gap (or even keep it lower than expected). What are you doing with your manufacturing business to do this?